Seven hospitalised after gas leak in Tamil Nadu


Mettur (Tamil Nadu) : At least seven people were hospitalised while several others complained of nausea, burning sensation in the eye and vomiting after a chlorine gas leak from Chemplast Sanmar’s chlor-alkali plant here Friday.

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Residents around the factory here, 500 km of state capital Chennai, complained of burning sensation in the eye, bloated stomach, giddiness and vomiting.

Chlorine levels in the online monitor on the factory tower registered a maximum of 4.9 parts per million (ppm), while the chlorine levels near the gate were 0.8 ppm way above the normal levels, sources in the Community Environmental Monitoring, an NGO monitoring pollution, told IANS.

“I was at a phone booth right opposite Plant 3, when workers from the factory were running out with handkerchiefs tied around their faces,” G. Anbazhagan, an eyewitness told the media.

“I got a sharp and pungent smell. My eyes started burning, I had a vomiting sensation and had to sit down as I was fainting.”

“My friend, Kalaiarasan, who was with me, vomited. He is more seriously affected because he ran towards the factory when the leak happened.”

Chemplast Sanmar’s Plant 3 manufactures caustic soda and chlorine and has frequently faced allegations of exposing the local community to cocktails of poisonous and toxic chemicals.

“There are frequent gas leaks from this factory, and some days when we see the gas clouds we just run. There is no warning. The TNPCB and other authorities do not take any action against the company,” S. Satyamurthy, a resident complained.

After the leak, the company officials told the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) investigators that it was caused by power failure in the factory at 11 a.m. and the power was restored within three minutes, TNPCB officials said.

A similar incident happened in the plant in July 2004 and more than 26 people were hospitalised.

This is the second gas leak in Tamil Nadu over past few days. Gas leaked from the state-owned Chennai Petro Chemicals Limited factory at Manali Dec 5 in suburban Chennai, causing panic among the people.