Chemical leak in Tamil Nadu plant, over 350 affected in in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu
At least 350 people, including women and children, received medical treatment in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu Monday night after liquid bromine leaked in a factory and, reacting with the husk kept around it, produced noxious fumes, officials said.
“All of them are in stable condition with their vital organs functioning well. The patients were complaining of nausea, eye irritation, heart burn and cough,” a doctor at the Government Head Quarters Hospital told IANS on phone Tuesday from Cuddalore, around 160 km from here.
He said a total of 122 persons have been hospitalised, including 14 children and 70 women. The hospital also treated around 100 outpatients.
Medical camps have also been set up in the villages near the factory of Shasun Pharmaceuticals Ltd and around 150 people were being treated there.
Located inside the State Industries Promotion Corporation
of Tamil Nadu Ltd (SIPCOT) industrial estate in Cuddalore, the Rs.530 crore-turnover company manufactures formulations for finished dosage products for some global drug companies.
The plant makes anti-ulcerant drugs like Ranitidine, Nizatidine and Gabapentin.
The gas leak occurred around 9 p.m. Monday night, affecting people in Kudikadu Colony, Kudikadu and Eechankadu villages.
The villagers complained of a burning sensation in their eyes and throat and were forced to flee their homes.
According to Cuddalore district officials, around 300 villagers have also been shifted to a government school outside the affected area.
“The factory had stored bromine liquid in bottles. It seems that one of the bottles had cracked. The chemical touched the dry husk kept around the bottle which in turn resulted in the smoke,” District Collector P. Seetharaman told IANS.
According to him, the factory has been shut down immediately pending completion of an enquiry.
“It seems the factory was not using the chemical for production… we will look into the issue of the quantities stored and whether they were within safe limits,” Seetharaman said.
According to him, the bromine chemical was stored in two- and five-litre bottles.
In 2009, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had ordered closure of the factory under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 on complaints that the plant was emitting dangerous fumes.
Shasun officials were not available for comments despite several attempts.