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A chemical factory in TN waiting to be another Bhopal

New Indian Express/ANI
April 10, 2005, Sunday

SIRUMUGAI: People of Sirumugai on the outskirts of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu are living each day in fear since they heard of a potential danger of pollution or leakage of 450 tonnes of high density liquid carbon-di-sulphide stored in 14 tanks at a factory in their vicinity.

The textile yarn factory is loaded with carbon-di-sulphide and other chemicals and to prevent these chemicals from evaporating, they are stored under water at a temperature of about 30 degree centigrade.

The threat of chemical pollution arose when both water and electricity supply was recently cut off from the factory, which was lying in a non-functional state for the past four years. The chemicals are now lying in an exposed state, which can lead to cloud formation eventually causing an explosion.

According to T Palaniswamy, chairman of the panchayat, Sirumugai, if immediate steps are not taken, a similar disaster like the Bhopal gas tragedy might soon be in the making.

“This is a company which was functioning for more than 45 years and almost more than 5000 employees were working here directly or indirectly, but for the past four years the company is closed and now for the past two months even the supply of electricity and water has been stopped. The carbon-di-sulphide, amonic acid and sulphur, stored in tanks in the factory requires sufficient water to be kept cool and in a safe condition. With the closure of the factory and no supply of water and electricity inside the plant has created a fear among the villagers residing in Sirumugai area. The plant is now facing a potential danger of explosion as like Bhopal’s poisonous gas explosion tragedy,” said T Palaniswamy, chairman of the panchayat, Sirumugai.

It is believed that even a gas leakage will have an adverse impact in a radius of 4 kms, and in case of explosion the village of Sirumugai will be reduced to ashes.

“As we came to know that the stored acid in the tanks may burst at any time due to insufficient quantity of water, we are really scared. If anything like this happens where do we go. We want the government to take necessary steps,” said Laxmi, a local resident.

Parents are scared to send their children to schools and demand immediate action from the government.

“We came to know through newspapers that these tanks are full of acids and may burst anytime. There is also a school nearby and more than 2000 children are studying here. We now feel scared to send our children to school. We want the government to solve the issue immediately,” said Pushpa, another resident.

Twenty years have passed since the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, which killed 7,000 people, maimed thousands for life, and eventually claimed at least 15,000 more lives which still await justice.

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A chemical factory in TN waiting to be another Bhopal
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