Residents of Kannikapuram in Pulianthope of north Chennai woke up to nauseous fumes on Monday.

Leakage of hydrochloric acid from a manufacturing unit inside a small-scale industrial complex on Ambedkar College Road had resulted in fumes that spread in the neighbourhood causing panic. The police and fire-fighters were alerted and no casualties were reported.

Around 6.30 a.m. on Monday, a few residents sleeping on the veranda of their houses woke up feeling uncomfortable after inhaling some fumes. They alerted other neighbours.

The residents traced the fumes to a small-scale manufacturing unit in Kannikapuram that produces hydrochrolic acid for commercial purposes.

“Never before had we experienced something of this sort. Besides, we knew all units within the small-scale complex were shut during the weekend. We panicked and alerted some neighbours who informed the Pulianthope police,” said V. Shankar, a resident.

The Pulianthope police and a six-member team of fire-fighters led by M. Anandamohan, station fire officer of V.O.C Nagar, reached the spot and carried out an inspection.

They found the acid had leaked from a broken pipeline connected to a 5,000-litre barrel. Acid is filled in small, plastic cans from the barrel through the pipeline and sold to retail outlets.

“The fumes were brought under control in about 30 minutes with the help of six fire-fighters. We used sand and water to put out the fumes,” said Mr. Anandamohan.

Since the manufacturing unit is located in a vast open space, the impact of the acid leak was reduced. The few residents who inhaled the fumes panicked as the smoke cover appeared thick and strong — an indication that the leakage might have taken place several hours ago on Sunday. As it was a holiday, it went unnoticed at the manufacturing unit.

There are a dozen small-scale units within the industrial complex including ones that manufacture footwear, grinders and ink.

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