Accident at bottling plant of IOC at Udayamperoor

A major disaster was averted in Kochi on Monday after 16 tonnes of cooking gas was accidentally released into the open at the Udayamperoor bottling plant of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

According to the police, the accident occurred around 4.30 p.m. when the driver of a bullet tanker moved the vehicle which was fixed to the plant for transfer of gas. The valve broke, leaving no scope for plugging the leak. The entire quantity of gas in the tanker was released, creating panic among the IOC officials and the local people.

The driver of the tanker, Adhinamlahi, 34, of Thankapetty, Puthukottai, Tamil Nadu, was taken into custody after the Udayamperoor police registered a case against him for negligent handling of hazardous material. During preliminary investigation, it was learnt that the driver had connected the tanker to the plant himself. No authorised personnel from the IOC was present there, the police said.

The driver had connected the tanker to one of the two non-commissioned bays for gas transfer. When told to move the vehicle to another bay, he did so, forgetting that the tanker was already hooked up to the bay.

A senior Fire and Rescue Services Department official said that the situation could have turned serious as dozens of gas tankers had been parked on the premises of the bottling plant. The fire-fighting mechanism at the two non-commissioned bays were installed a couple of days ago and had not been properly tested, he said.

However, quick reaction from those in the vicinity averted a major fire accident. Traffic was stopped on roads leading to and from Udayamperoor for nearly an hour and electricity supplies were cut. Residents in the vicinity of the bottling plant were alerted and some of them left their houses for safer places. No comment was available from IOC officials.

In 45 minutes

Two fire tenders, one from Tripunithura and another from Gandhi Nagar, reached the spot. The department official said that the oil company workers were already pumping water into the areas where the gas had spread. A strong posse of policemen rushed to the site of the gas leak to take precautionary measures . Though the situation was brought under control in about 45 minutes to one hour, people in the immediate vicinity of the bottling plant were shaken for a while.

‘No smell’

Traffic on the roads leading to and from Udayamperoor was restored after the all-clear sign from fire and rescue services personnel and IOC officials.

Jomy Sebastian, a resident near the plant said people had panicked for a while on hearing the news of the gas leak. There was no smell of gas though a large quantity had leaked. C.K. Mohammed Niaz, another resident, said timely actions such as stopping of traffic and cutting of electricity supply helped. He said people were alerted about the gas leak immediately.

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