Explosion at Orchid Chemicals in Chennai kills 1, injures 2

By Shweta Narayan, Corporate Accountability Desk, Chennai
4 November, 2005. (1.45 a.m.)
Chennai: An explosion at Orchid Chemicals’ pharmaceutical factory in Alandur, 45km from Chennai, has killed 1 person and injured 2 to 3 persons.
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Information at 12:30 am 04/11/2005 – Deputy Superintendent of Police office, Kanchipuram According to the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kanchipuram, the information of the explosion was reported to the police at 9 pm on 3/11/2005, shortly after the incident. The officer described the incident as a steam boiler explosion that led to spill of purified acetic acid and other bleaching agents inside the factory premises. One person was charred to death and was beyond identity at the time. About “2 to 3 persons” are reportedly injured, and have been admitted to the Sankara Hospital in Perumbakkam. The officer also mentioned that a building in Phase 24 of the plant has also been partially damaged due to the force of the explosion. There were reports of fire after the explosion but the fire was controlled by the fire engines.
Local residents reported at 11 p.m. that the explosion was felt all the way to Mahabalipuram, about 10 km from Alathur. Fenceline communities living in Paiyalur and Vengaleri reported damages to their television screens due to the explosion.
Information 1:00 am on 04/11/2005 – Sankara Hospital, Perumbakkam
A staff nurse at the emergency unit of Sankara Hospital confirmed that two Orchid workers – Muthkumar (35) of Thangaraj Nagar in New Perungalathur and Mr. Suresh (21) from Kambar Nagar, Thiruporur — were admitted to the hospital late in the evening by a co-worker. Both workers were reportedly working in the control room and were injured by the glass that splintered as a result of the explosion. The nurse said both workers are serious; Muthukumar’s condidion is reportedly very serious because of loss of blood.
There was no gas leak reported either by the police or residents, and no complaints of odour or chemical-related discomfort outside the factory. However, the force of the explosion has left people shaken.
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Orchid Chemicals is the recipient of CII’s Leadership & Excellence Award in Safety, Health, Environment and Manufacturing in 2002. The ISO 14001 Company is the recipient of several awards given by industrial associations, including an MS Swaminathan for world class Environmental Management Systems award in 2003.

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