GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
Hazardous gas leaks are not new to India. Iron and steel factory fire is known to cause major damage to lives and properties. A leading foreign steel mill rolling company in Tadipathri mandal of Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh caught fire on July 12 claiming six lives and leaving more than five injured. The plant is said to have emitted the dangerous carbon monoxide gas to the detriment of the workers. Usually, carbon monoxide is used as a coolant, at the drip point of steel production, used for repair work. Drip point is nothing but the end of a metal rod from which oil drips – for use as lubricant or for combustion. The workers are always advised to carry safety kits to enable detection of gas leakage and are also taught to firmly secure the main valves to prevent leaks. What went wrong and where is a question for the investigators to answer. The point is personal safety is more often than not given a go-by in such industries. The owners may have failed to orient the workers towards safety and security despite being the eighteenth largest steel producers in the world. It is pertinent to note that a similar kind of incident had taken place in 2008 in the said plant killing two workers. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas, which goes unnoticed and undetected in emergencies. It is lethal to the haemoglobin thereby affecting the oxygen carrying capacity of blood leading to gasping. Since the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are vague in the initial stages, the affected may be deceived. Only when disorientation and visual disturbances develop, the imminent danger of poisoning can be gauged. Therefore, a high index of suspicion is a must.