At least 25 people were hospitalised after they complained of uneasiness following an incident of ammonia gas lea at a fertiliser manufacturing unit in north Chennai's Ennore on Tuesday night.
After the leak at the plant, which took place around 11.45pm on Tuesday, an unpleasant odour spread across the neighbourhood.
The leak was found in the sub-sea pipe of Coromandel International Limited.
Residents in areas like Periya Kuppam, near the manufacturing facility, reported discomfort, nausea, and faintness. Subsequently, as per PTI, more than 25 individuals were transported to nearby hospitals for medical attention.
Tamil Nadu Environment and Forest Department told ANI, “Ammonia gas leak detected in a sub-sea pipe in Ennore. This was noticed and stopped. The production head says the leak caused a strong smell.”
Issuing a statement on Wednesday, Coromandel International Limited's President and Head Manufacturing (Fertiliser) and Supply Chain Amir Alvi said, “As part of routine operation, we noticed abnormality on 26/12/2023 at 23.30 hrs in the ammonia unloading subsea pipeline near shoreside, outside the plant premises. Our Standard Operating Procedure activated immediately, and we have isolated ammonia system facility and brought the situation to normalcy in the shortest time. During the process, few members in the local community expressed discomfort and were given medical attention immediately. All are safe and normalcy is restored. We have informed relevant authorities about the incident. Coromandel has always adhered to the highest safety standards and emergency response system."
Soon after the public heard about the gas leak, people evacuated their homes in a state of panic, gathered on the roads and sought assistance. Sources told PTI that the officials from the fertiliser unit ‘took steps’ to address the technical issue.
According to DIG, Joint Commissioner Avadi, Vijayakumar said, "There are no more gas (ammonia) leaks at Ennore. People are back home. Medical and police teams are present at the spot."
Police officers reassured the public, informing them that experts were actively addressing the problem. They urged residents to return to their homes saying, “there is no problem”.
The forest department received a call at 12.45am regarding the leak that happened during the pipeline's pre-cooling operation.
Additional Chief Secretary Environment Climate Change and Forests Supriya Sahu said, "Immediately the Joint Chief Environmental Engineer JCEE (M) Chennai along with District Environmental Engineer DEE (Ambattur) and Assistant Executive Engineer AEE (Manali) reached the site by 2.15 am and inspected the unit and the pipeline locations. The Joint Director, Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH) who is the authority for the safety of the industrial operation was also present at the site."
As per ANI, the unit saw that the pressure in the pipeline dropped at around 11.45 pm and simultaneously a pungent odour was observed too.
Tamil Nadu Environment and Forest Department said, "The unit also immediately visited the pipeline location across the road and observed gas bubbles coming out of the pipeline at about 2' from the shore. The unit immediately started depressurising the pipeline by diverting the ammonia vapour to the flare and completed the operation within 20 minutes."