Action likely against fertiliser firm over ammonia gas leakage in Tamil Nadu’s Ennore
Fertiliser firm Coromandel International could face legal action and pay an environmental compensation of ₹5.92 crore for the December 26 ammonia gas leak in Ennore
Fertiliser firm Coromandel International could face legal action and pay an environmental compensation of ₹5.92 crore for the December 26 ammonia gas leak in Ennore, a suburb of Chennai, as the state government on Sunday ordered the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to implement recommendations of a technical committee investigating the industrial accident.
The incident left several hospitalised, killed hundreds of fish and impacted marine and residents’ life. The technical committee, which included experts from Indian Institute of Technology Madras and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, found that the leak had occurred from the undersea pipeline of Coromandel International close to the shore. It recommended in a report that Coromandel International should pay a compensation of ₹5.92 crore to the state pollution watchdog.
The board should also initiate “legal action against the unit for the non-compliance with the conditions of the consent order issued under the Air Act,” the environment department said in a statement.
The factory should replace the existing offshore pipeline by a new one with a state-of-the-art monitoring, automatic control and accident prevention system, one of the 18 recommendations of the committee said. The pipeline was not properly protected at the location where it emerged out of the sea and crosses a road to reach the factory, the panel said. It should be secured to avoid any accidental damage, it said.
The villages surrounding the factory protested for several days after the accident, demanding the factory be permanently closed. The committee recommended that the factory should keep local residents informed of the precooling and ammonia transfer operations.
Late on December 26, ammonia gas leaked from a pipeline that runs from the sea to the factory. The level of ammonia in the air was 2,090 microgram, as opposed to the accepted level of 400 microgram. In the sea, it was 49 milligrams per litre (mg/l) against the standard of 5 mg/l, the pollution board found.
The National Green Tribunal took up the case on its own and is hearing the matter.
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