Gas leak affects over 90 employees at factory

Leak was caused by a chlorine pipeline burst, SEPA has directed to suspend operations at factory


Kashif Hussain March 06, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Over 90 employees of Engro Polymer and Chemicals Limited were rushed to a hospital on Friday after they fell sick following a gas leak, caused by a chlorine gas pipeline burst, at the company's polyvinyl chloride manufacturing factory near Port Qasim.

Panic ensued after the leak, as employees ran towards the factory's exit and the management immediately shut down the plant.

According to the Bin Qasim SHO, the incident occurred at around 10:30am, when more than 200 employees were working at the factory. All of the employees were taken out safely, he said.

Police and rescue workers reached the site of the incident and shifted the affected persons to a nearby hospital. However, three of the affected employees, who were said to be in critical condition, were later shifted to a private hospital and the remaining to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

"Timely precautionary measures were taken to protect the employees working on the plant and the people in surrounding areas," said an Engro spokesperson. "The situation is 100 per cent under control."

He added that there had been no death, no injuries and no loss of consciousness. "All stakeholders of the company have been informed. Safety of our employees is the basic foundation of the company," he maintained.

He further said that it would be premature to say that the gas leak was due to negligence, adding that the incident was under investigation. Meanwhile, the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) ordered the company's management to suspend its operations.

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According to a SEPA spokesperson, a team led by SEPA director general Naeem Mughal inspected the plant, on the directives of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, and ordered the management to immediately suspend all operations as all plants at the factory are interconnected.

However, the plant where the leak took place was shut down by the company prior to the visit by the inspection team, he said.

The spokesperson said that the company was instructed to keep all operations suspended at the factory until SEPA ensured that it was fully complying with environmental laws and regulations. He added that the company's management was also offered the opportunity of personal hearing to explain its position on the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2020.

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