Andhra Pradesh

Smoke from HPCL Visakh Refinery triggers panic among residents

Thick smoke billowing from the Fluedised Catalytic Cracking Unit-1 of HPCL Visakh Refinery in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.  

There was tension and panic among people residing near HPCL Visakh Refinery for about 30 minutes when thick, hot smoke billowed out of the Fluedised Catalytic Cracking Unit-1 of the refinery on Thursday evening.

“The smoke that originated from one of the pipelines due to temperature fluctuations has been brought under control immediately,” HPCL spokesman said.

“It has neither caused any damage nor casualty, and it is harmless,” he stated.

The sudden development caused tension among residents of the nearby areas such as Sriharipuram, Malkapuram and Gajuwaka.

They ran helter-skelter fearing another gas leak as memories of the May 7 styrene vapour leak in LG Polymers, which killed 12 persons and hospitalised over 350, were still fresh in their minds.

“Though the incident is minor, it has created a lot of fear among people,” HPCL Visakh Refinery Contract Workers’ Union president N. Ramachandra Rao said.

“With the recent gas leak incident still fresh in our memory, the billowing smoke has created a panic-like situation,” said G.A. Naidu, a resident of Malkapuram.

Many even dialled ‘100’, and a team from the Malkapuram Police Station rushed to the spot to remove fear among the panic-stricken residents.

Accident in 1997

People residing in these areas had a bad experience. Sixty people died and thousands were evacuated in 1997 due to vapour cloud explosion in the refinery.

Later, the refinery also released a note stating that smoke was observed for a brief period at one of the stacks in the plant. It said that the smoke was caused due to momentary imbalance in combustion, leading to excess smoke, along with steam, coming out from the stack and it was controlled in 3 to 4 minutes following a normal operating procedure. As per the release, the emission was normal flue gas with steam.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 9:33:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/smoke-from-hpcl-visakh-refinery-triggers-panic-among-residents/article31645133.ece

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