A day after more than 200 women employees, a few of them pregnant, had fallen sick reportedly after inhaling some kind of a poisonous gas, suspense continued on Saturday on what exactly had happened at Quantum Seeds, a unit in Brandix India Apparel City (BIAC), at Atchutapuram in Anakapalli district on Friday.
The employees had complained of nausea, burning sensation in the eyes, stomach pain, and diarrhoea, and were admitted in various hospitals.
Though most of them had been discharged after some basic treatment, the real cause of sickness was not yet clear.
Addressing the media on Saturday, BIAC’s India partner P. Doraswamy maintained the stand he had taken on Friday that some kind of a gas would have leaked from the neighbouring chemical factory and spread to the seeds unit.
‘No trace of leak’
However, officials from the Department of Factories and the A.P. Pollution Control Board say that “such a possibility is very low.” Both the agencies confirmed that they could not find any trace of gas leak in the chemical factories.
“The aerial route from the chemical factories to the seed unit is about 1.5 km. If there is any gas leak, many workers in the chemical factory and its neighbourhood would have also been affected. But we are still investigating,” said a senior official from the Department of Factories.
The other aspect being looked into by the officials and the four-member committee set up by the District Collector is whether there is any leak of freon from the air-conditioning unit at the Quantum Seeds.
“Though freon is not poisonous, it has some odour and may cause some sickness. But this is just one of the possibilities we are looking into,” said the official.
It is learnt that the officials are also looking into the food poisoning angle, as it is learnt that the workers take food in the canteen at the factory.
“Samples have been collected for investigation,” the officials told The Hindu.
Meanwhile, Yellamanchili MLA U.V. Ramanamurthy Raju (Kanna Babu) said he had asked the company management to close down the unit till the committee submitted its report on the exact cause of the incident.
“I have also asked them to ensure such incidents do not recur and take steps to instill confidence among the workers, as they are very scared,” he said.
TDP Mahila wing president V. Anita, who visited the site and NTR Hospital where a few women were being treated, said a proper investigation should be done by an independent body.
After styrene monomer vapour leak at LG Polymers in 2020, this was the biggest industrial accident, she said, and alleged that the government failed in making the erring industries fall in line despite blatant violations of all safety norms.
The Chief Minister had allowed the LG Polymers management go scot-free. Had he taken effective steps then, the other industries would have complied with safety norms, she said.
Mr. Doraswamy also informed that steps had been taken to see that all employees were given proper treatment.