A major tragedy was averted at the bottling plant of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) at Udayamperoor on Monday morning after an LPG leak in a bullet tanker parked on the premises was detected in time and plugged successfully.

Tension prevailed for more than three hours in areas near the plant after the leak was detected in one of the safety valves of the bullet tanker around 8 a.m.

The leak was noticed during a safety check by the oil company staff ahead of transfer of gas from the bullet tanker to the storage tanker in the plant.

Breach of a seal on the rotogauge reportedly owing to extreme pressure inside the tanker led to the leak.

Police and fire force were alerted even as the company suspended the operations of the plant and evacuated its premises of all staff except technicians engaged in sealing operations.

Power supply to the area was snapped and a petrol pump functioning in the vicinity was closed down by the police, who formed a security cordon around the plant.

Five fire engines and personnel from the fire and rescue units of Gandhi Nagar, Thrikkakara, and Tripunithura got down to work immediately. Water was sprayed on the tanker to bring down the pressure even as efforts were on to plug the leak. The technicians of the oil company finally plugged the leak using a wooden wedge by around 11.15 a.m.

About half of the 17.50 metric ton LPG inside the tanker had leaked by the time the mission was completed.

Any accident would have resulted in a major disaster considering that about seven other loaded bullet tankers were inside the plant when the leak was detected, fire force sources said. LPG was later shifted to the tanker and the plant resumed operations after a while.

Fire divisional officer R. Prasad and assistant division officer K. Abdul Rasheed led the operations, while City Police Commissioner K.G. James was in charge of the police contingent.

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