Industrial Chemical Plant at Cuncolim Estate Gutted

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MARGAO: An industrial chemical plant in the Cuncolim industrial estate went up in flames in the early hours of Monday after barrels containing concentrated propionic acid stored inside the unit caught fire. The entire plant was gutted in the fire, though no casualties were reported.

Official sources said that the plant was functioning under the name of Rajeshwari Speciality Chemicals Pvt Ltd and owned by Anand Honur from Karwar. The fire broke out at around 6.50am following which the fire and emergency services (F&ES), on being informed, rushed to the site and launched fire fighting operations. There were no casualties. Sources said that the few workers who were present inside rushed to safety once the fire broke out.

Such was the intensity of the fire that 280 litres of foam was used by the F&ES for quelling the raging flames. The fire fighting operation lasted for nearly three hours.

Speaking to TOI, assistant divisional officer, F&ES, Prakash Parab, who supervised the operation, said that around 100 barrels believed to contain propionic acid caught fire, thereby releasing toxic fumes in the surroundings. Parab said that the exact cause of the fire would be known only when the technical details of the manufacturing process are made available to them. The plant was into the production of alkyl phenol. Propionic acid and caustic flakes were used as raw material by the plant, sources said. "We called the manager and the owner for an interrogation tomorrow. We asked them to produce the material safety data sheet (MSDS) so that we are able to verify the chemicals stored in the factory, the nature of the manufacturing process, etc which will help us deduce the cause of fire," Parab said.

The plant had not obtained the mandatory NOC from the F&ES. Confirming this, F&ES director Ashok Menon said that but for a few fire extinguishers, there was no proper fire safety mechanism in place inside the plant premises, as mandated in the Fire Force Act in force in the state. He said that the F&ES will issue a notice to the owner asking him to show-cause whyfire preventive measures were not put in place as required under Section 13 of the Goa Fire Force Act, 1986. The plant was also not registered with the inspectorate of factories and boilers (IFB). Chief inspector S M Paranjape said that no factory with that name stands registered with the IFB. He said that those units employing more than 10 workers are required to register themselves with the IFB.

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