Staff Correspondent

This is the third accident that has taken place at the MRPL plant in recent times

MANGALORE: A disaster was averted at Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd. here after a fire broke out in a 30-ft-high naphtha tank early on Friday morning. Although diverse reports emerged about the time it took to control the fire, company spokespersons claimed that it was brought under control in less than 10 minutes. This is the third accident that has taken place at the MRPL plant in recent times. The first was in late 2008, when a cooling tower collapsed.

Again on April 16 this year, a fire occurred in a cooling tower of the plant. Sources in the Fire and Safety Department of MRPL, who first informed the media about Friday’s fire, claimed that it took nearly an hour to bring the situation under control. However, Deputy General Manager and Public Relations Officer Lekshmi Kumaran said that the whole operation lasted 20 minutes.

General Manager (Human Resources) Koduri Lakshminarayana, who escorted The Hindu to the accident spot, said, “At about 6 a.m. a fire broke out at the Naphtha Vaporising unit. In less than a minute, a field operator tripped (cut off the supply of naphtha) the unit. The fire raged for less than 10 minutes before it was put out.”

According to him, the fire must have been caused by a “leak in naphtha” that ignited after coming in contact with a heating coil. Refinery officials informed Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj about the accident and sent a preliminary report within 12 hours of the incident, as stipulated by the law.

The extent of the damage and loss incurred owing to the fire will be assessed by a special fact-finding committee led by the plant in-charge, Mr. Lakshminarayana said.