Indian Oil Corporation conducted a safety drill at its Indane bottling plant at Periyakalandai, near Negamam, to check emergency preparedness. A release said that the IOC management conducted the drill on April 19 to comply with the rule of conducting a safety drill every six months.

N. Manoharan, Joint Inspector for Industries, Safety and Health, Division II, was present when the IOC officials conducted the drill. The members of the district crisis group, representatives of local administration and staff at the bottling plant witnessed the event.

The release said that P. Yogarani, Senior Plant Manager, S. Nandakumar, Deputy Manager (Plant), and M.S. Muthuvel, Deputy Manager (Plant), organised the drill.

The IOC organisers said that they had created a situation wherein leftover gas from a scrap cylinder gushed out and caught fire even as the cylinder fell from the conveyer belt onto a stack of cylinders kept for degassing.

The valve change operators raised alarms, switched on hand sirens and operated the fire extinguishers. As they could not put out the fire, they ran out of the shed and while doing so one of the employees switched on the emergency button, which cut power supply to the plant and also activated the second siren, a bigger one.

The employees suspended all operations, rushed to safety near fire hydrants and monitors and stay put there awaiting instructions. As per the advice of the Fire Safety Officer, the employees combating fire activated the sprinkler system, hydrant system and monitor system.

The Fire Safety Officer after learning that a few systems were out of control, instructed the officers to declare emergency, inform the district authorities, Fire and Rescue Services personnel and police.

After a while, the fire fighters doused the flames. Meanwhile, as part of the drill, the IOC officers also rushed a victim to a private hospital. After the fire was completely put out, an employee wearing safety gear was sent in with explosives meter to check gas concentration. After he signalled that no further leak was detected, he gave a clear signal. And that ended the drill.

Officials from BPCL Terminal, BPCL LPG Plant, HPCL Terminal and Negamam Police also witnessed the drill.