KOLLAM: Around 40 students of Government HSS, Sankaramangalam, were hospitalised following a gas leak from the Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd plant in Chavara on Wednesday morning.
The students developed nausea and dizziness after 9.30 am when the gas, favoured by a southward wind, reached the school premises located 300 m south of the plant. The students were immediately taken to a nearby private hospital and Karunagappally Taluk Hospital by the school authorities.
Some were discharged, while some are still undergoing treatment. KMML managing director P Michael Vetha Siromony in a statement said that the gas, formed while burning petroleum coke, spread in ‘limited quantity’ while preparations were being done to start the chlorinator.
“The leak was immediately sealed and there were no further problems,” he said. Karunagappally ACP Devamanohar said that the police had not received any complaint from the victims of the incident. “We presume the gas to be sulphur dioxide, which had caused the trouble,” he said. Karunagappally Tahsildar Basheer Kunju and the ACP visited the site immediately after the incident.
Meanwhile, RYF activists staged a blockade when Revenue Divisional Officer S Najeeb tried to visit the site.Later, SFI activists also staged a protest in front of the KMML gate.
“There could be a possibility of purposeful leakage as vested interests are working to destroy this public sector unit. The management should have been more alert. We will continue our protests,” RYF state secretary C P Sudheesh Kumar said and added that it was the first time that the management had admitted of a gas leak.
District Medical Officer K Salila said that such incidents had occurred previously also. “Children are more vulnerable to respiratory problems owing to such gas leaks. The pervious incident happened a year-and-a-half ago and so we were prepared and equipped to provide treatment in Karunagapally Taluk Hospital itself,” Salila said.
Similar incidents of gas leaks from the KMML factory had been reported in April 2007 and November 2011, following which many students from nearby schools had sought medical treatment.