Kochi: An explosion in a tanker following leak of hazardous carbon disulphide (CS2) during an unloading session at the premises of the Hindustan Insecticides Ltd at Eloor near here left 16 people injured, including four seriously, on Wednesday. The incident happened at 9.50 am when the CS2 in liquid form, imported from Israel, was being transferred from a tanker to a manufacturing plant at the mangozeb factory of HIL Udyogamandal unit. Preliminary probe points towards a leak in the tanker valve.
The condition of four, all HIL officials, is serious. While Paul P Thomas (57) and Ganapathi Raman (52) were admitted to the Burns ICU at Ernakulam Medical Centre with 80 and 28 per cent burns respectively, Ranjith K Jose (39) and John T R (57) suffered 50 per cent burns and were rushed to KIMS Hospital. Eight others were recuperating at various hospitals while four were discharged later in the day after administering primary treatment. The volatile liquid compound catches fire spontaneously upon coming into contact with air and is usually stored under water.
The consignment was brought to the plant premises from the Vallarpadam International Container Terminal in a 20-tonne tanker. “As per primary probe, a leak in the tanker valve has resulted in release of the toxic vapour and caused at least three explosions which deflated tanker tyres,” said R Prasad, district Divisional Fire Officer. Soon fire personnel, officials of the Department of Factories and Boilers, state Disaster Management wing and police reached the spot. District Collector K Muhammed Y Safirulla too reached the spot quickly and led the rescue operations. It took 10 fire engines and over 30 personnel an hour to douse the flames and bring the situation under control.
Police have lodged charges under IPC Section 338 for causing grievous hurt through rash and negligent act against the company. “Further action would be taken after receiving the report of Factories and Boilers Department,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Arul R B Krishna. The collector later asked the Factories and Boilers Joint Director to conduct primary a probe into the incident and submit a report in two days.
Negligence leads to risky leakage:
The rise in mishaps during transportation of hazardous chemicals to industrial belts calls for stricter Standard Operating Procedures like mandatory accompanying of experts in such vehicles. A primary probe into the latest mishap involving a 20-tonne capacity chemical tanker, carrying the toxic carbon disulphide (CS2), found a pinhole in the manifold valve of the vehicle as the primary cause for the leakage.
“The negligence during transportation of the chemical from the Vallarpadam Container Terminal to the factory led to the leakage and the subsequent explosion, though minor in nature. During inspection, we found manifold valve of the truck had got a small crack and the Nitrogen blanketing provided escaped through the same,” said S Mani, Joint Director of Factories & Boilers.
“Since CS2 is denser than air the vapour might have dropped to the ground, and upon getting contact with the hot exhaust pipe, it caught fire. This explains the tanker tyre burst,” said S Mani, Joint Director of Factories & Boilers,” he said. The volatile liquid compound catches fire spontaneously upon coming into contact with air and is usually stored under water. However, since it was imported from Israel Nitrogen blanketing was provided in this case.
R Prasad, Ernakulam Divisional Fire Officer, said such consignments should be loaded and unloaded from vehicles only after inspection by experts accounting factors such as possible leakage during transportation. “During initial probe, we found an HIL official mounted the tanker and opened the bent pipe without accounting for the leakage,” he said. Sources also said the unit used for transferring the liquid from the transport tanker to a permanent tank was not in use for a while. It is not clear whether the unit was checked for safety before the charging operation was undertaken.
Meanwhile, Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has ordered closure of all processing plants of the company post the mishap. “A detailed inquiry would be needed to assess whether negligence had caused the accident,” said K Sajeevan, PCB Chairman. Joint trade union of the HIL protested the PCB direction saying the factory has nothing to do with the mishap....