Thank other industrial units for rushing fire tenders

After a sleepless night, officials of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) heaved a sigh of relief on Friday for preventing any casualty and containing the fire to one of crude distillation units. “After taking stock of the fire scenario, we finalised a strategy to isolate other units and splash saltwater, foam and ordinary water at CDU-3 where fire broke out. After the hydrocarbons in the unit got exhausted, we could put out fire within six hours after containing it within an hour,” HPCL Deputy General Manager (HR) A.S.V. Ramanan, told The Hindu.

The fire fighting operation, in which a dozen fire tenders from neighbouring industries as part of mutual aid and some from Navy were engaged as a back-up, lasted throughout the night. After isolating other units to restrict the damage, fire fighting was done throughout the night under the supervision of Executive Director V.V.R. Narasimham.

In quite a contrast to what happened on September 14, 1997, when a vapour cloud explosion triggered by leakage from an LPG sphere killed 56 people and foam had to be flown from Mumbai to extinguish the fire, this time the HPCL authorities had enough stock of foam as well as salt water, dry chemical powder and portable extinguishers.

After the 1997 accident, worst-ever in the industrial history of Andhra Pradesh, the HPCL incorporated several advanced safety mechanism to prevent such tragedies.

HPCL Senior Manger (Fire & Safety) S.C. Panja said 30 to 40 fire fighting personnel from the refinery were engaged in the operation. “We are grateful to Coromandel Fertilizers, Andhra Petrochemicals, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Navy and all others who as part of mutual aid understanding immediately rushed their fire tenders to supplement our effort,” he said.

Meanwhile, MLA Malla Vijaya Prasad visited the HPCL’s Visakh Refinery on Friday and inquired about the reasons for the fire accident. He asked the management to take steps to avoid accidents in the refinery.

Executive Director V.V.R. Narasimham, Director K. Murali explained about the fire accident to the MLA.

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