Mettur, 07 April 2009: A noxious gas leak between 8 and 8.45 p.m. on 6 April, 2009, from Chemplast Plant I (CFC division) brought angry villagers from Kavipuram and Desai Nagar to the plant gate. In the altercation that followed, a company official, later identified to be Arun Prasad, reportedly apologised to the villagers for what was “merely a refrigerant leak” and assured them that this will not be repeated. Villagers exposed to the unknown chemical reported a decayed coconut odour for about 45 minutes. Some villagers experienced eye, throat and tongue irritation, and a bloated feeling in the stomach.
Thangamani, a resident of Desai Puram filed a complaint regarding the leak in the Karumalaikoodal Police Station.
Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board, Assistant Engineer Manimaran arrived in Mettur at 12.30 a. m., more than 3 hours after the incident. After his inspection, he said he was unable to confirm or negate whether a gas leak had occurred, because the company denied it, and all its online monitors were non-functional.
This is the third gas leak from Chemplast Plant I in the last year. On 11 March, there was a leak of chlorine and antimony from the plant. On 28 September, there was a massive leak of HCFC 22. The factory is unlicensed and illegal plant. The Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board is aware of the unlicensed status of the unit.