Chlorine leaks in Mumbai port, 103 ill

Chlorine leaks in Mumbai port, 103 ill

Chlorine leaks in Mumbai port, 103 ill

At least 103 people fell sick when they inhaled chlorine gas which leaked early today from one of the imported cylinders lying in Bombay Port Trust's (BPT) Hay Bandar premises for 13 years. The condition of eight persons who are in JJ hospital was said to be critical, police said.

The incident at Sewri area near some residential buildings and a college also raised questions of negligence in disposal of the cylinders and hazardous material. The affected persons were taken to King Edward Memorial hospital, JJ hospital and BPT hospital, police and fire brigade officials said, adding they included college students, BPT staff and firemen.

BPT, Police and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation are jointly conducting a probe into the incident while the Ministry of Shipping has sought a detailed report from the Port Trust authorities. Some of the affected persons were discharged after getting treatment. Eight persons are in Critical Care Unit due to respiratory problems, state-run J J Hospital Dean T P Lahane told reporters.

"Due to intake of chlorine gas patients have developed breathlessness and are facing burning sensation in eyes, on face and hands", he said. The fire brigade personnel rushed to the spot to plug the leakage. Four fire officers took ill after inhaling the gas and were taken to hospital for treatment.

The gas leakage was reported at 0315 hours from BPT premises located near Lal Bahadur Shastri college of Maritime and Research Studies, a fire brigade official said. Rahul Asthana, chairman of the Mumbai Port Trust, said some operators using the site import empty chlorine cylinders and fill them for re-use.

"Some residual chlorine appears to have been left and that leaked out into the atmosphere," he said. "It's under control. We have put sodium hydroxide on it." According to an official press release, 136 cylinders, including the one from which the gas escaped, had been lying at BPT's Hay Bandar premises for the last several years. These had been imported in 1997 but the importers did not take delivery, it said.

"Bombay Port Trust is checking its records to find out whether any action had been taken for disposal of the hazardous material in the past," the release said.