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Gas leak at apparel unit still a mystery, samples sent to Hyderabad research centre

VISAKHAPATNAM: Toxic gas leak at Seeds Intimate Apparel India unit, which manufactures inner-wear, at the Brandix SEZ created a flutter on June 3 and on July 2. There are three blocks — M1, M2 and L. In each block, there will be 800 to 900 workers in each shift. The gas leak was reported in the same block where the gas leak was reported in June first week.

According to a police official, who was on duty at Brandix, there were 850 employees in the M1 block where the incident occurred. APPCB officials said they collected samples and sent them to the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, for analysis. In June, gas leak was reported in AC decks in M1 block and over 250 were hospitalised then. It was identified as complex gas. However, the source of the gas leak is yet to be identified.

It is learnt even as the investigation into the gas leak on June 3 was going on, permission was given to the plant to reopen. Now all the three units of Seeds company were closed after the second gas leak.

The management claims that the source of the gas was not known. “There was no gas leak within the building area of the plant. The gas leak was noticed outside the premises of the block,” it said. However, Industries Minister Gudivada Amarnath said the onus was on the company to ensure the safety of its workers. They should follow the SOP with regard to safety measures, he said.

The minister said samples collected during the June 3 gas leak at the plant revealed that there were complex gases. He also said PCB officials believed that pesticides used for pest control entered AC units and when AC units were switched on hazardous gas was released and as a result, the workers fell sick. A further comprehensive enquiry was ordered to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, he said.

There were rumours of a fresh gas leak at the Seeds company just three days after the June 3 gas leak incident. However, officials had then said they inspected the plant and they found there was no gas leak. What gas and its source still remain a mystery.

According to officials, there are 436 red categories, 353 orange categories,185 green categories and 76 white category industries in the combined Visakhapatnam district. Of the 436 red category industries, 140 are pharma units. They include 85 pharma units in JN pharma and 45 pharma units in Atchutapuram APIIC. There are about 150 mining units. One mobile continuous ambient air quality station was then deployed near Brandix.