Oxygen pipeline was of inferior quality, say employees
With the oxygen house blast at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant sending shivers down the spine, there is mounting pressure for fixing responsibility on the officials responsible for safety lapse.
The blast, which, as of now, claimed lives of 15 employees – nine belonging to Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited – the corporate entity of VSP — has created ripples in various circles and rattled the confidence levels among the workforce.
The panic stricken management took 24 hours to break its silence on the worst-ever industrial tragedy in the city after 1997 vapour cloud blast at Visakh Refinery of HPCL.
Sources told The Hindu that once the high-level probe ordered by Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma and headed by the former SAIL Chairman, S.R. Jain, completes its probe in a month from the date of taking up its charge, several heads will roll.
Many employees working in the SMS Department told visiting leaders and teams that use of inferior quality oxygen pipeline and false designing led to blocking of valves – subsequently causing the disaster.
Moreover, over-enthusiasm among the officials to complete the inauguration of converter as part of the expansion project on June 13 and join celebration party had claimed so many lives.
The room where all the employees got trapped was very small and usually one or two workers were supposed to inspect the progress of the system. In fact, sources said, sweets were kept ready to celebrate the successful commissioning of the converter.
On hearing that there was a snag, which prevented the required pressure level in the oxygen house, all the senior officials rushed to the spot to rectify it.
The RINL management, which is still in a state of shock, has to fix the responsibility for the accident of such a magnitude.
In earlier accidents, including the May 1 blast at Blast Furnace-3 in which two workers died, no action had so far been initiated, alleged Steel Employees’ Union general secretary D. Adinarayana. “At least now, they should wake up from deep slumber and take corrective measures to prevent recurrence of fatal accidents,” he said.