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Thursday, Apr 07, 2005

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It's an `explosive' issue for Sirumugai residents

L.N. Revathy

Coimbatore , April 6

RESIDENTS of Sirumugai town, particularly those around SIV Industries (in liquidation), appear a restless lot these days. The reason is the liquefied carbon-di-sulphide (CS2) stored in the factory premises.

Apprehending danger, NGOs, ex-managers and union leaders have urged the Coimbatore District Administration to "save Sirumugai" by either removing the material from the factory or restoring supply of diesel for safeguarding the material.

With the Official Liquidator halting supplies of diesel to SIV Industries, the threat of explosion of this chemical looms large.

About 215 tonnes of liquefied CS2 is stored in 14 steel storage tanks within the premises in various locations. This has to be stored under a column of water in a sump and the temperature maintained at below 40 degrees centigrade to prevent evaporation or explosion. Lack of adequate water may lead to leakage, and air contact can result in explosion

The water requirement is around 1.50 lakh litres every alternate day.

A 160 kVa diesel generator is used for pumping water from the river, as the power line to the factory has been disconnected. About 400 litres is the daily requirement of diesel for factory lighting and water supply to the CS2 tanks among others.

If the water level in the sump falls further, the liquefied gas would come into contact with air. This vapour of CS2 is said to be two times heavier than air. Sources apprehend an explosion and fire outbreak, even if any one of the 14 tanks signalled a leak, causing heavy damage to life and property within a 2 km radius.

A secondary fire effect has also not been ruled out as 700 tonnes of concentrated sulphuric acid and 475 tonnes of sulphur are stored in different locations.

As the factory has not been functional for the last three years, the storage tanks have corroded.

Besides these chemicals, there is stock of wood estimated at 25,000 tonnes in the yard.

While the authorities have assured that they would extend all support and make alternative arrangements, the representatives say the Official Liquidator has till date taken only symbolic possession of the factory. The company came under the control of the liquidator on August 25, 2004.

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