Kannur: A major disaster was averted when a tanker, with 18 tonnes LPG, overturned at a curve on the national highway at Kalliasseri near Kannur around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
More than 20 fire-tenders from 16 fire stations sprayed water to douse the tanker after it sprang a leak, igniting flames that raged for 18 hours.
Kannapuram sub-inspector P.B. Sajeev, who reached the spot around 4.15 a.m. on being alerted by night watchman Vinod at nearby KPR Auditorium, said the cause of the mishap would be known only after interrogating the driver, Hridayaraj, and his assistant Sebastain Sahayaraj, both of whom jumped out of the cabin and raised an alarm. Both escaped with minor injuries.
Taking all precaution, the police blocked the traffic from both Kasargod and Kozhikode sides at a safe distance from the site of the accident and asked residents to move away through public address system.
A recurring nightmare
Kannur: A tanker carrying 18 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) belonging to the Indian Oil Corporation from Mangalore, caught fire after it overturned on the National Highway at Kalliasseri near Kannur in the early hours of Tuesday.
The mishap occurred at around 4 am when the tanker lost control and overturned after hitting a vehicle coming from the opposite side. However, the cause of the accident is yet to be confirmed.
No serious cases of injury or even burns have been reported so far. According to sources, the driver and the cleaner immediately jumped out of the cabin and asked the residents nearby to leave the spot, in view of a possible explosion.
The incident was reported at the Fire and Rescue Station in Kannur at 4:17 am. Around 23 fire tenders from 16 fire stations in Kannur, Kasargode and Kozhikode districts were engaged in extinguishing the fire.
Despite the fire-force’s nine-hour long efforts to bring the situation under control, flames were still leaping out of the tanker.
Fire fighters near the tanker from which LPG leaked at Kalliasseri in Kannur on Tuesday. —DC
Fire units were forced to stay away from the tanker and spray water from a safe distance as the gas was still leaking. However, top officials of the Fire and Rescue Services said the situation was under control. “The point of ignition has been deactivated. However, we need to be cautious. Uninterrupted water supply will be ensured”, they said.
“Three water monitors and one zero torque have been engaged in cooling cool the tanker”, said E. B. Prasad, Administrative Director, Fire and Rescue Services. District Collector M.G.Rajamanickam and Superintendent of Police A.Srinivas inspected the spot and ordered immediate evacuation of the residents living in the vicinity of the mishap. Traffic on the National Highway was diverted following the incident.
Even as the police and fire fighting officials continued the vigil during the night on Tuesday the gas was still leaking from the tanker and the conflagration was on. S.P. Srinivas said that though everything has been done to quench the flames the possibility of the taker being exploded cannot be ruled out.
The LPG tanker tragedy at Chala in Kannur on August 27, 2012, had claimed the lives of 20 people.
Next: No government action on safety measures yet
No government action on safety measures yet
Melena Thomas | DC
Kozhikode: The State Government has been sitting on the report submitted by the Department of Fire and Rescue Services on the safety measures to be adopted while transporting LPG.
The report was submitted to the Commandant-General of Fire and Rescue Services a month after the Chala gas tanker accident on August 27, 2012.
The report suggested that a minimum of two drivers be compulsorily deputed for one truck service with the assurance that each driver would not drive the vehicle continuously for more than three hours and to put up a punching system at regular intervals to ensure that the vehicle was driven by both the authorized drivers in regular turns and at the permitted speed.
It suggested that tankers move in a convoy so as to avoid accidents when other vehicles cross/overtake the bullets.
The other recommendations included the setting up of speed governors limiting the speed of the truck to a maximum of 40 kms /hour, red hazard warning panel lights atop the cabin, reflecting tape all along the bullet body, equipping tankers with leak arresting plugs with suitable hammers, additional mechanical jacks in the rear side of the vehicle so that the valves would stay safely between the front and rear jacks, seals with leak arresting kit, flame proof torches and intrinsically safe megaphones.
Regarding the roads, the report suggested that there should be sufficient lights throughout the highway, curves be made in tune with the easy movement of long chassis trucks and trailers, dividers be constructed with recommended height and width as per the specifications of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and proper traffic signs, reflectors and notices to be displayed at important places on the road.
The department also recommended the transshipment of LPG through waterways.
Chala victims yet to get jobs
Kannur: The State Government, on August 25, 2013, had issued compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the 20 people who had died in the LPG tanker accident at Chala.
About Rs 1 cr was given to compensate the damage to houses, shops and goods and about Rs75 lakh was distributed. Another rs 40 lakh was given to compensate for crop loss.
Though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had promised to pressure the Indian oil corporation (IOC) to provide jobs for the dependents of the deceased, so far none of the kin of the victims had received jobs, it was reported.
There was also the promise of a monthly pension of Rs 5,000 each for the dependents if they failed to get jobs from IOC.
However, this promise is also yet to materialize. Those who suffered 40 per cent or more burns were given Rs 5 lakh each. Those who suffered less than 40 per cent burns got Rs 2 lakh each.
Additional district magistrate of Kannur, O.Muhammed Asslam, said the entire compensation, but for a few stray cases had been distributed. “We are yet to receive the Rs 3 cr compensation announced by IOC”, he said. The IOC had also gone back on its promise of giving jobs to the dependents, he said.
The Crime Branch which investigated the disaster had exonerated IOC from all charges.
Next: Palanivel acted on time, saved village
Palanivel acted on time, saved village
Kannur: Where is Palanivel, who saved the tiny village of Palakkunnu risking his own life?
It was on September 28, 2013, that a few local people of Palakkunnu found that LPG was leaking from a speeding bullet tanker.
Some youths alerted Palanivel, the driver of the truck. Instead of fleeing from the spot, Palanivel, got hold of some pieces of cloth and plugged the leak till the local people took measures to alert people living around the place. He kept the gap plugged till the immediate residents were evacuated and that stretch of the highway was sealed.
The Tamil Nadu native suffered serious burns to his hands. The reason for the leak was the damage caused to the safety valve of the tanker when the vehicle had brushed past the branch of a tree by the wayside. Though the State Government and IOC announced a reward for him, Palanivel left unsung without waiting for his reward.
Next: RO RO services can reduce risk on highways
RO RO services can reduce risk on highways
Thiruvananthapuram: More than 40,000 tanker lorries ply on national highways in the state daily carrying LPG, petroleum products, ammonia and other hazardous and highly inflammable products adding to the danger of accidents on the highways.
After the Chala tragedy in 2012, the state government had contemplated various measures to reduce the risk involved in transportation of LPG and hazardous products.
One of the options mooted at that time was ‘Roll on Roll off’ (RO RO) services under which tankers, container lorries and trucks are transported on rail wagons reducing the pressure and risk on highways. The system has been implemented rather successfully in the Konkan region.
While the suggestion was mooted by the railways at a high-level meeting convened by the chief secretary in 2012, there has been no follow-up action even as tragedy is waiting to happen.
Experts say that in Kerala the rail network is the most suitable mode of transportation. They say that RO RO services can be utilized from refineries to the bottling plants and tanker lorries should only be considered for the last mile of delivery.
But oil companies are not keen on moving to RO RO service because of the time factor. Railway routes in Kerala are highly congested, so ensuring timely supply of LPG and petroleum may not be possible.
Moreover RO RO involves loading and unloading which could be problematic according to the union. Many companies prefer rail freight services to RO RO.
Next: New LPG conduit awaits approval
New LPG conduit awaits approval
Krishna Kumar K E | DC A new pipeline project aimed at transporting LPG between Kochi-Coimbatore and Salem is awaiting the nod of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).
If given sanction, it would offload nearly a 100 tanker lorries from the roads every day.
The project, a joint initiative of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation and the Indian Oil Corporation, would see a 300-km pipeline laid between Kochi and Coimbatore in the first phase and linking Salem in the second phase to carry cooking gas from the Kochi refinery.
The Kochi refinery now has a production capacity of one million tonnes of LPG a year, sufficient to meet the demand of the entire state. The Rs 1,000 cr pipeline project assumes importance in the wake of repeated mishaps involving LPG bullet tankers.
Meanwhile, though the railways present a much safer option, LPG transit through this mode of transport remains underutilized.
“Despite offering around 40 per cent less on transportation costs compared to road transport, we fall short of sufficient orders. We are trying to work out a solution from various angles – the Government, oil companies and the like,” said a top official of the Thiruvananthapuram division of the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd.
Next: LPG tanker mishaps in the state
LPG tanker mishaps in the state
1. LPG tanker overturned at Karunagappalli, Kollam — November 17, 2006
2. LPG tanker collided with a car killing three and injuring nineteen, at Karunagappalli, Kollam —December 31, 2009.
3. Driver charred to death when an LPG tanker collided with a car at Kozhikode — July 2, 2009.
4. LPG tanker overturned at Aripra, Malappuram — October 19, 2010.
5. LPG tanker overturned at Poinachi, Kasargod — September 16, 2010.
6. LPG tanker overturned and disrupted traffic at Kasargod — February 11, 2010.
7. Bullet tanker overturned at Chundala near Taliparamba, Kannur — February 26, 2013.
8. LPG tanker overturned at Chala, Kannur in which 20 lives were lost — August 27, 2013.
9. LPG tanker overturned at Koduvally disrupting traffic through NH 212 — May 16, 2013.
10. A gas tanker carrying LPG hit an autorickshaw and overturned at Chudala in Kannur — February 25, 2013.
11. A truck driver averted a major mishap at Karivellur, Palakuunu in Kasargode plugging the leakage of the tanker on his own, giving time for the authorities to take preventive measures — September 28, 2013.