The police on Wednesday arrested the plant supervisor of the chemical factory where a gas leak led to the death of four workers on Tuesday night.
Six workers of the chemical factory owned by Sequent Scientific continued to be under observation at a local hospital on Wednesday while five others were discharged after being treated. “We have arrested JJ Choudhury, the plant supervisor, who was present at the site at time of the incident,” said UD Sonawane, inspector, Boisar police station.
Choudhury has been charged for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for negligence. The police had detained the plant’s chief manager SG Upadhyay and production manager Sanjay Patil and questioned them about the possible reasons for the leak of hydrogen sulphide gas.
The chemical plant, which makes medicinal powder used in veterinary medicines, has been temporarily shut down after the accident. Situated amid 2,000 industrial units in the Boisar MIDC area in Thane, the plant is set apart from the others by the two policemen standing guard at its entrance. A mild pungent stench of rotten eggs, characteristic of hydrogen sulphide, still prevailed in the air nearly 24 hours after accident.
Workers, who are recuperating at a local private hospital, said the leak occurred at about 7.30 pm when they were cleaning a filter adjacent to a condenser in the plant.
“I was very close to the filter,” said Suresh Chaurasia, 24, who is being treated at Aashirwad Hospital. “It happened so suddenly and we choked instantly and could not breathe. Whoever fell on the side, survived by sheer luck.” Workers are unsure about the source of the leak.
Exposure to concentrated hydrogen sulphide gas can cause instant death, said doctors. “It is a chemical asphyxiant, which reduces transfer of oxygen from blood to the organs,” said Dr Parag Kulkarni at Aashirwad Hospital.
“Our team has visited and monitored the site till 2 am,” said YB Sontake, regional officer, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.