VIJAYAWADA: Following a spate of industrial accidents in the State, the government issued fresh guidelines to check the leakage of toxic gases in factories.
Madireddy Pratap, Director General, Disaster Response and Fire Services Department, recently issued the notification detailing various measures for industries to institutionalise preventive measures such as joint mock drills, community awareness programmes that are required in case of accidental leakage of toxic, poisonous, explosive and dangerous chemicals that are likely to cause fire and harm human health.
Under Section 14(1) of the Act, all companies and industries, including ports, which store or process any toxic, hazardous or explosive chemicals are required to disclose that information every three months. That will enable the first responders — police, fire services and health personnel — to conduct joint mock drills and create awareness among the local communities on the likely hazards and possible preventive measures.
Referring to the LG Polymers gas leakage incident, the department said that had the information relating to storage of toxic chemicals in factories been made public, it would have been easy to pinpoint the source in case of a leak and take immediate steps to contain it.
Going by past incidents of fire that reduced the cold storage facilities to ashes in some parts of the state, the DRFS conducted experiments — in concert with ONGC and industry experts — using liquid nitrogen, aerosol and liquid carbon dioxide to douse the blaze.
While DRFS is acquiring fire tenders, with a liquid carbon dioxide capacity of 10,000 kg each, to be stationed near clusters of cold storages, isolated units have been directed to maintain a bank of liquid carbon dioxide cylinders to handle emergency fires.
There are 278 cold storage units in the State, most of which are used for storing dry red chillies. The new guidelines that have been issued also suggested putting in place a ‘decentralised fire safety system’ and installing automatic heat and temperature sensing devices, fire detection and alarm systems. Industrial units have been authorised to use foam generators to contain oil-related fires. There are 220 pharmaceutical units across the State, many with multiple exothermic reactors.
With respect to pharma companies, the department felt that explosion of reactors due to runaway exothermic reactions has been identified as the root cause of fatal accidents. The DRFS, accordingly, has asked the managements of the pharmaceutical companies to adopt the latest safety technologies, besides posting qualified and well-trained employees to handle the reactors.
“We can have the equipment to fight the fire but not an explosion. Hence, all care is to be taken to avoid conditions leading to an explosion,” Madireddy Pratap observed. There are 220 pharmaceutical units in the state, many with multiple exothermic reactors.