Eleven employees, nine of them executives, were hospitalised after they complained of suffocation after inhaling blast furnace gas. Some of them fainted.

A major catastrophe was averted at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant late on Monday night when blast furnace gas leaked at the Thermal Power Plant.

Eleven employees, nine of them executives, were hospitalised after they complained of suffocation after inhaling blast furnace gas. Some of them fainted.

“All of them have been discharged after first-aid,” a spokesman of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, the corporate entity of VSP, said on Tuesday.

After finding high pressure in the pipeline causing gas leakage, Madhusudan Rao, B. Srinivasa Rao, and Sivaji, who were on duty, closed about 20 valves manually minimising the damage, even as all those present in the control room were rushed to Steel General Hospital following nausea and breathing problem.

Meanwhile, the management constituted a committee to probe into the gas leakage.

The leakage took place in Boiler-5 after it was lighted up after shutdown for 40 days for capital repairs.

Steel Plant Employees’ Union general secretary D. Adinarayana and Visakha Steel Employees’ Congress general secretary Mantri Rajasekhar alleged that excessive dependence on contractors and negligence in taking safety precautions were leading to frequent accidents.

Blast at oxygen pressure reduction station of Steel Melt Shop-II killed 19 employees on June 13 following which the management said it would commission various units under expansion only after third party inspection.

On Monday night’s incident, the management said: “There was a small gas leakage in one of the Boilers of Thermal Power Plant, which is under operations since more than two decades. The employees present in the vicinity of the incident got affected. With timely alert of the operational and maintenance people present at the incident, the leakage was identified and people affected were taken to hospital.”

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