The Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) warehouse at Sewri, where unclaimed chlorine cylinders leaked and sent 131 people to hospital, is a ticking bomb.
The warehouse still has around 1,400 'lots' of various hazardous materials contained in several thousand barrels, cylinders and packages, said sources. A consignment gets shipped in several 'lots'.
Among the dangerous substances are cartridges, which have been there since 1979, lead batteries, 1,200 drums of base oil, zinc dross, phosphorous, acetylene and ammonium.
"Gases such as ammonia are flammable and if they leak, it could cause a lot of damage. Inhaling it can prove fatal," said a petrochemical expert from Century Rayon, requesting anonymity.
"If phosphorous comes in contact with skin, it causes irritation. White phosphorous is extremely toxic."
Of the lots, 22 belong to the Customs department, which has began a drive to get rid of them.
That there are hazardous materials lying around, however, came to the notice only after Wednesday's gas leak.
"This is an eye-opener for us," said Mohan Chandran, secretary, MbPT.
Chandran was unable to answer why the materials have been neglected, some since 1979.
"The probe will bring out all facts, about the [gas leak] and other issues," he said, adding that a decision on what's to be done will be taken once the current crisis is under control.
On Friday, three cylinders were neutralised, amidst reports of further leak, which Chandran denies.