Truck carrying hazardous chemical topples, spillage creates scare

Truck carrying hazardous chemical topples, spillage creates scare

10:38 AM, 10th March 2016
Truck carrying hazardous chemical topples, spillage creates scare
Personnel from the National Disaster Relief Force, wearing CBRN suits, clear a dangerous chemical spill after a truck carrying several tonnes of thionyl chloride toppled on NICE Road in Bengaluru. © Deccan Chronicle

BENGALURU, INDIA: A tanker transporting a poisonous chemical, Thionyl Chloride, toppled on the vital NICE peripheral ring road close to Kengeri (a satellite town in Bengaluru), India leading to a 22-hour-long scare.

The liquid chemical flowed by the roadside for more than 200 metres, necessitating the deployment of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The leak was plugged and the chemical spill neutralized after a 20-hour-long operation, but not before hours-long traffic jam resulted in a stretch of the vital tolled road linking many highways radiating out of the city being closed until Wednesday evening. The departure of a Chennai-Mysuru train was delayed at Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station to avoid passing through the area.

Thionyl chloride, which the driver claimed was to be used for the production of pesticides, is a highly poisonous chemical and excessive exposure to it could be life threatening. Even moderate exposure could lead to pulmonary edema, a condition where liquid formation takes in the lungs, apart from nausea and diarrhea among other things. While the permissible level is 1 particle in a million, NDRF estimates that a large amount of the 10,000 litres of the chemical had leaked.

Fortunately, the accident took on a part of the tollway on either side of which there was very little human habitation up to a few hundred metres and the brunt of the spillage’s impact was borne only by road users who were dispersed by local police. Also, the roadside had no water. If the chemical had come in contact with water, it could have released violently released poisonous gases.

It is suspected that the driver of the 10-wheel truck, which was transporting the chemical from Madhya Pradesh to Tamil Nadu, was drunk and lost control over the vehicle and turned turtle about five km before Mysuru road. The tanker fell into a crater to the left of the road. Driver Satish though claimed he fell asleep resulting in the accident.

Once the vehicle toppled, the two lids on top of the truck were damaged, resulting in a gradual leakage of the chemical. “We deployed 30 men from our chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear (CBRN) combat team to contain the spread. It is a poisonous gas and the spread to the drain was a matter of concern. Unlike other cases, we couldn’t use water, as the chemical could react with it and aggravate the situation. The only way to control the situation was to put mud or sand over it. Covering the 200-metre stretch took working all night and till afternoon of the next day,” said Santosh Kumar, team commander, Bengaluru NDRF team.

A large amount of mud was used to cover the chemical. The operation which started around 8 pm on Tuesday went on till 2 pm on Wednesday. After the leak was contained, the truck was lifted using a crane.

© Times Of India News

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