Tanker was transporting LPG from BPCL plant to Coimbatore

A leak in an LPG tanker on the National Highway near Angamaly created a major scare on Monday afternoon. The leak was detected at Karayampparambu north of Angamaly on the national highway around 1.45 p.m. The tanker was transporting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from the BPCL plant in Ambalamugal to Coimbatore.

The tanker was immediately stopped and the police and the fire force personnel were alerted. Fire trucks from Angamaly fire station had some difficulty in reaching the scene amidst the confusion and anxiety among the motorists immediately after the incident was reported.

Soon the police cordoned off the area and vehicular traffic to either side along the national highway stretch was stopped. BPCL was also informed about the leak.

“Timely intervention and presence of mind of our fire fighters along with sheer luck, timing of the incident, and proper and strict evacuation helped a great deal in preventing the situation from going out of control. We also received excellent technical support from various agencies including BPCL and Kochi airport,” T.B. Ramakrishnan, Assistant Station Officer, Angamaly, said. Two fire trucks and six fire fighters from Angamaly fire station fought the situation for more than half hour after which they were joined by fire trucks from various other fire stations within and outside the district. “We created a water mist to bring down the atmosphere temperature and created a cool atmosphere to prevent an explosion,” Mr. Ramakrishnan said. Attempts to plug the leak in the safety release valve using a seal available in the safety kit in the tanker failed as it didn’t fit in.

By then an industrial technical team from the oil company reached the scene and took over the situation. Sources said the safety release valve popped up following a rise in the pressure inside the tanker. It is a safety mechanism integrated into the tanker to avert an explosion in the event of a rise in pressure level.

However, the reason for the pressure shoot-up inside the tanker is unknown. As soon as the pressure stabilised through vapour release, the valve got reset automatically. The technical team, however, detected a minor leak even after the safety valve was reset and plugged it with a seal by around 3.30 p.m. The trip to Coimbatore was abandoned and the tanker was taken back to the plant at Ambalamugal. Stoppage of vehicular movement for almost two hours threw the traffic through the national highway completely out of gear. It was a while before normalcy was restored. People in the locality also remained in the grip of fear as news about the LPG leak spread. There was a collective sigh of relief as soon as the leak was plugged and vehicular movement was restored.

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