In Ennore, Tamil Nadu, an ammonia gas leak from a pipeline connecting the sea to a private fertiliser company's factory stirred panic among residents of Periyakuppam and Chinnakuppam.
Detected on Tuesday (26 December) night as reported by Deccan Herald, the leak prompted swift action to control the situation.
Although containment efforts were successful, ammonia levels in both the ambient air and sea surged to concerning levels by 3 am on Wednesday (27 December).
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) reported an ammonia level of 3 ppm in the air, well above the 400 microgram/m3 24-hour average.
Also, the seawater's ammonia level spiked to 49 mg/L, breaching the marine discharge standard of 5 mg/L.
This incident follows a recent oil spill caused by the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) refinery, intensifying concerns about environmental hazards in the region.
Residents recounted being abruptly awakened by the strong ammonia odour around 11:30 pm, with some experiencing respiratory distress.
Approximately 30 individuals sought medical attention due to difficulty breathing.
The gas leak originated from the subsea pipeline of Coromandel International Ltd, a manufacturer of ammonium phosphate potash sulphate (APPS).
TNPCB noted a pressure drop in the pipeline around 11:45 pm, prompting the unit to swiftly depressurise and divert ammonia vapor to the flare, completing the operation within 20 minutes.
TNPCB has directed the company to identify the precise location and extent of pipeline damage within a day, insisting on rectifying the issue before resuming ammonia transfer.
Coromandel International Ltd, part of the Murugappa group, assured that standard operating procedures were promptly activated, swiftly bringing the situation under control.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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