Probe panel says non-technical staff was Sahiti unit in-charge

He further went on to say that the blast was due to an operational failure.
Sahiti pharma unit blast at Atchutapuram
Sahiti pharma unit blast at Atchutapuram

VISAKHAPATNAM: The five-member committee appointed to probe into the reasons behind the Sahiti pharma unit blast at Atchutapuram found glaring lapses leading to the accident, which claimed the lives of six workers. 

Deputy inspector of factories Vadapalli Suresh, who is a member of the probe panel, said that a B.Com graduate, not a technical staff, was posted as the supervisor of the distillation unit of the ill-fated plant. Speaking to TNIE, Suresh said, “The management employed a B.Com graduate as the plant in charge at the distillation block, contrary to the norm.

The supervisor should be a basic chemistry degree holder with five years of experience so that other workers can work under him. Among the workers, only one was an ITI fitter and others were non-technical staff.” 

He further went on to say that the blast was due to an operational failure. He stated that as the vacuum pump at the distillation unit was shut, it led to an increase in pressure resulting in a shooting up of temperature.

This caused the reactor explosion, he added. While the panel completed its probe, it would submit its report to the Collector later this week depending on the forensic results. Elaborating on the accident,  Suresh said that the highly inflammable chemical dimethyl sulfoxide was being loaded close to the unit when the fire broke out.

Several notices issued to Sahiti Pharma, 107 lapses found

The hazardous chemical also caught fire and led to the catastrophe. As much as 800 tonnes of solvent was gutted in the fire, he said.

Suresh said a prohibitory notice has already been issued to Sahiti Pharma, which bars it from taking up production. The unit was issued notices twice earlier, and a case was registered against it for non-compliance with an improvement notice given after inspection in 2020. 

“Department of Factories inspected the lab again in April this year and another improvement notice was issued to Sahiti just two months before the ghastly accident,” the probe panel member told TNIE. He said the panel identified 107 lapses and gave directions to comply with the order. The accident occurred even as they were waiting for a full compliance report. Moreover, there was no facility to measure temperature.

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