Port trust to clean up its act | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Port trust to clean up its act

mumbai Updated: Jul 16, 2010 02:03 IST

A day after a chlorine gas leak at the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) warehouse at Sewri landed 123 people in hospital, port trust authorities said they will review the hazardous material lying at the warehouse and disposing them of soon.

The municipal corporation wrote to port trust authorities on Thursday requesting them to survey the area and dispose of any such hazardous substances stored there. The corporation has suggested that MbPT take help from experts.

"There are cylinders containing acetylene and other such substances. They [the MbPT] need to dispose them of soon," senior civic official said on the condition of anonymity.

The cylinder that leaked on Wednesday was among 105 cylinders lying in MbPT compound since 2001.

The BMC said it can only request the port trust authorities because it has no jurisdiction over their premises.

"There are several buildings, a hostel and a railway station near the warehouse. So to avoid any hazards in future the dangerous material should be disposed of," said Assistant Municipal Commissioner (F-South) Harshad Kale.

The fire brigade also said it had asked the MbPT to get rid of these cylinders earlier.

The MbPT on Thursday began neutralising three out of four cylinders containing chlorine gas. Secretary Mohan Chandran told Hindustan Times that the work had begun on Wednesday after the gas leak but had to be stopped at night because the direction of the wind was unfavourable.

"We started work again on Thursday morning and expect to neutralise the cylinders by night," Chandran said. The fourth cylinder will be neutralised on Friday because it there is a problem with its valve, Chandran said.

He added that the remaining 100 cylinders will be checked although they are empty. "If we find any of these have residual gas, we’ll will neutralise it."

Senior Customs authorities also issued directions to their staff on Thursday to check all the seized hazardous material kept at other warehouses and take measures to dispose it of.

"For those hazardous consignments under litigation, we will try to expedite the proceedings by requesting the courts or tribunals and citing the gas leak incident," a senior Customs official said.

The Customs department had written to the MbPT in 2006 saying barring two seized consignments of sodium nitrate and some cartridges, which are under litigation, the port trust could take action on the remaining hazardous material.

The MbPT checked its records on Thursday and found 38 more cylinders and lead sheets in the warehouse. These cylinders will also be neutralised.