Fumes trigger eye irritation and breathing difficulties
Formic acid spill in Avarampalayam on Friday afternoon troubled the area residents and also road users. Fire and Rescue Services Department had to rush two tenders to clean the area and contain the damage.
According to the Coimbatore City Police, in the spill that happened around noon, the acid that was stored in a 50-litre can spilled when the mini lorry carrying the can and 99 others of the same capacity moved over the speed breaker at the Avarampalayam railway crossing.
Fumes from the can quickly spread, triggering irritation in the eyes, difficulty in breathing and vomiting among residents and road users. Road users said they could not drive through the Avarampalayam Pirivu stretch of the Sathyamangalam Road as the irritation in the eyes left them with watery eyes.
A passerby said that many motorists stopped their vehicles alongside the road to vomit. The acid comes with a pungent, penetrative odour.
Soon after the acid spill information reached their ears, the Fire and Rescue Services Department rushed the first tender from the Ganapathy Fire Station and the second from the Coimbatore South. Divisional Fire Officer N. Subramanian said that the rescue personnel at the tenders spread sand and then washed the affected area with water.
The operation took around 40 minutes.
Avarampalayam resident J.R. Selvakumar said that for the 30 minutes the acid fumes invaded the area, the residents had a horrible time.
Those in the vicinity could not open their eyes as the irritation was beyond explanation. Many elderly residents also experienced breathing difficulties.
He said the worst part was that they could experience the pungency and irritation but could not identify the smoke or fumes. A few residents panicked and rushed out of their homes.
The city police said that the lorry carrying 5,000 litres acid was on its way from a chemicals company in Ganapathy to Udumalpet to be used as a cleaning agent in a poultry there.
The police also said that the Ganapathy company had bought the acid from a manufacturing unit in Ranipet, Vellore.
The acid spill affected traffic flow in the area.