Two senior officials at IFFCO’s Phulpur plant in Prayagraj died and 16 other employees fell ill after a major leakage of ammonia gas at the plant on Tuesday night. The Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) in a statement said the incident took place around 10.15 pm Tuesday when pipes carrying liquid ammonia ruptured, leading to the leakage.
The fertiliser plant is situated around 30 km from Prayagraj.
The deceased have been identified as Assistant Manager VP Singh and Deputy Manager Abhyanandan Kumar. Of the 16 people who fell sick and were hospitalised in the district, eight have been discharged, while one has been shifted to a Lucknow hospital. The condition of others are stable and out of danger, an IFFCO official said.
While IFFCO has set up a techinical investigation committee to find out the cause of the gas leakage, the UP government has also ordered a probe into the incident.
Dr US Awasthi, Managing Director and CEO of the IFFCO, said prima facie “mechanical failure” appears to be the reason behind the cause of ammonia leakage.
“Our emergency response group, fire and safety team and plant operating staff bravely fought with the emergency situation and restricted the leakage to a small area within the plant and normalised it in a short time,” the IFFCO said in its statement.
According to IFFCO officials at Phulpur plant, around 10.15 Tuesday night, staff members sensed ammonia gas leakage in plant number 2, causing chaos in the township.
“The incident took place around 10.15 pm when a cleanser detached from one of our ammonia pumps. It caused a leakage of ammonia which formed a cloud in a small area. In order to tackle the leakage, two of our officers died, and 16 others were affected. All those injured are stable,” Mohmmad Masood Ahmad, head of the IFFCO’s Phulpur plant, said, adding they will do a detailed investigation to find out the exact reasons behind the incident.
The plant, where the leakage took place, has been closed and no one outside the complex has been affected, officials said.
Denying media reports that around 100 employees were present inside the plant when the gas leaked, IFFCO unit’s spokesperson Vishwajeet said at any given time only 8 to 10 employees are stationed in the control room.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed grief and ordered a probe into the matter. He also announced that a financial help of Rs 4 lakh each to the family of the deceased.
It has been confirmed that Tuesday’s incident was not the first that took place at the Phulpur plant in past few years. At least two similar incidents, though of much lesser effect, were reported in 2018 and April last year. Sources said that four persons were affected in gas leakage in April last year, and nine in 2018 incident.