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Gas leak in Petroproducts factory puts 7 in hospital

Sep 28, 2010

Daniel P George
Times of India

CHENNAI: Seven persons were rushed to the Stanley Medical Hospital on Sunday evening after they complained of breathlessness and uneasiness after a chlorine leak from one of the pipes at gate number four in the Tamil NaduPetroproductsLimited factory on the Manali Express Highway, 40km from the city. Officials of the hospital said those treated as inpatients were Asif D(21), M Aasan (25), K Prabhakaran (36), M Riswan Sherif (27), Ansar Basha (28), Riswan Abdul Rahman (24) and Sanjeev Gandhi (36). The seven were treated and discharged on Tuesday.

Truck drivers on long haul routes parked near the factory witnessed the incident. They said a minor fire and leak occurred around 6.30pm on Sunday near a culvert outside the factory. Traffic was blocked on the busy highway for over half an hour as firemen and company officials tried to prevent passersby from inhaling the chlorine.

Linear Alkaline Benzene (LAB) was being transported through underground pipes running across the highway to the other side of the factory when the leakage occurred near a culvert. "There is no cause for concern. Our fire officials and technicians were able to plug the leak within fifteen minutes'' said a top security official of the factory.

When TOI visited the spot, the pipes were being sprayed with water. Security guards were seen guarding the pipes on both sides of the highway. The pipes need urgent replacement. Certain parts of the pipe have been wrapped with duct tape. Meanwhile the Manali Municipality served a notice to the company on Monday afternoon. The notice, a copy of which is available with TOI says, "Please let us know if there has been a chlorine leak. It has come to our notice that several people have been affected. Is there a possibility of chlorine still being in the air which could lead to health concerns among the residents of the area?"

The notice also said the company had not obtained an industrial license since 2008-2009. The municipality has warned the company that action would be taken against them according to the Tamil Nadu Municipality Act of 1920 and the 1939 Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Act. The municipality has sought details pertaining to the machinery, buildings and safety measures of the factory within seven working days.

Chairman of the Manali Municipality, R Gnanasekar told TOI said, "Though it seems a minor incident it still is a cause for concern. We are lucky that nothing serious happened. It is time steps are taken to prevent any further disaster". However, the company officials were not available for comment.

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