Ammonia leak disrupts quiet Ennore night, over 50 residents affected

In the quietude of Ennore, Chennai, the tranquility of December 27, 2023, was abruptly shattered by an unforeseen danger. A fertilizer manufacturing unit in the industrial sector became the epicenter of an alarming event – an ammonia gas leak from a sub-sea pipeline connecting the facility to the open sea, triggering concern among the local population.

The incident unfolded around 11:45 PM, permeating the night air with the unpleasant stench of ammonia. Immediate action was imperative as the consequences of the gas leak became apparent. A total of 52 locals, including children, were rushed to medical facilities due to breathing difficulties. Residents in the vicinity reported feeling unwell, experiencing symptoms such as nausea and light-headedness, underscoring the gravity of the situation. In response, health authorities swiftly intervened, mandating a temporary halt to the operations of the affected unit pending further investigations.

The company responsible for the facility promptly initiated the depressurization of the ammonia offloading sub-sea pipeline upon detecting an anomaly, prioritizing the reduction of potential dangers associated with ammonia exposure. The immediate suspension of operations, ordered by health authorities, accentuates the severity of the incident and underscores the need for a thorough inquiry into the origin of the leak.

Ammonia leaks, even minor ones, pose significant risks, particularly in industrial settings. Vulnerable components of cooling systems, such as joints and connections, can lead to leaks, while incidents involving vehicles used for materials handling can trigger unexpected ammonia gas emissions. The Ennore incident serves as a stark warning of the potential hazards inherent in industrial activities involving ammonia.

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In the event of an ammonia leak, prioritizing safety is paramount. Evacuating the affected area is the first crucial step in response to indoor leaks. For leaks stemming from household cleaning or chemical products, opening windows and doors to facilitate fresh air circulation is advised, and leaving the area until the gas disperses is essential for personal safety.

In instances where ammonia is leaking into the atmosphere, using a water spray can help “knock down” the vapor and minimize gas emissions. Additionally, covering the nose with a damp towel provides some protection against inhaling the gas. These safety precautions are indispensable for residents and workers, especially those residing or working in areas susceptible to industrial incidents involving ammonia. The Ennore incident serves as a sobering reminder of the imperative to prioritize safety measures in the face of potential industrial hazards.