Kundapur: Ammonia blast at fish processing unit - Investigation team visits site

Daijiworld Media Network - Kundapur (SP) 

Kundapur, Aug 15: Assistant commissioner (AC) here, Dr S S Madhukeshwar, said that prima facie it appears that the incident in which 75 workers took ill after leakage of ammonia at the fish processing unit at Devalkunda in the taluk happened because of the negligence on the part of the company concerned. He said that the concerned had been asked to take all necessary steps and that different departments will hold investigations on the allegation of negligence. 

He was speaking to media persons after visiting Malpe Fresh Marine Experts unit located at Devalkunda in Katnbeltoor panchayat limits on Wednesday August 14 in the capacity of investigating official. He also held consultations with government officials before that. He happens to be the head of the committee formed by the deputy commissioner of the district to investigate the incident in which workers of the unit had fallen sick due to leaked ammonia inhalation. 

He noted that out of eight tonnes of gas in the unit, 1.5 tonne continues to be in the gas pipeline. He explained that the gas inside the pipe can cause danger because of increasing pressure inside. "For clearing this gas, experts from Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers will be coming here. When clearing the gas, fire brigade, ambulance and such other safety measures will be kept in readiness. We have barred entry of people into this factory. The people deputed by the company in Mumbai which supplied the machinery have arrived. They will check the temporary welding done at the leakage spot. Officials of the boiler section in the department of industries will be present. The company has to issue no objection letter for operating the machinery again. The factory will become functional again only after all the safety measures are in place. In the meanwhile, the workers have been given holiday for a week," he explained. 

The AC stated that the unit employs 401 workers and there are no pay-related complaints. He said that residential quarters cannot be provided to workers within the compound of the factory and the labour department will call for explanations for violation. He said that proper attention to maintain the unit has not been taken. Even though mock drills about fire and factory accidents were arranged, no one was educated about the handling of chemical-related accidents and safety. He noted that first- aid equipment and life saving gear for those who handle exigencies have not been provided. 

No objection certificates from the fire brigade have not been obtained since the last 12 years, he noted. The waste from the factory is being disposed of at Vandse village, the media persons told him. He said suitable steps would be taken. 

He said that gas leakage happened because of the iron bolt fitted to the clamp where two pipes have been joined together, having gathered rust and disintegrated, on account of non-maintenance. 

Deputy superintendent of police, Dinesh Kumar, district health officer, Dr Ashok, tahsildar, Tippeswarmy, Byndoor taluk health officer, Dr Premanand, Dr Laxmikanth of Pollution Control Board, and many others were present.


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