Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) has decided to form a committee of both internal and external experts to probe the cause of the industrial fire in its naphtha cracker unit which broke out on Friday in Haldia which left 13 people injured and three are in critical condition.
Although the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, preliminary estimates suggest a gas leak to be the cause of the fire.
A source aware of the developments said, “A committee will be formed by HPL comprising experts from the industrial field. Care needs to be taken so that this upcoming committee is not influenced to conclude on their findings and the report is accurate”.
“It will also help HPL avoid any similar disasters in future. Forming the committee will take some time but it is absolutely essential”, the source said.
HPL has already shut down its plants to extinguish the fire completely and the flow of naphtha has been cut. According to the sources, the shutdown was crucial so that the naphtha and other volatile materials do not enter the plant and further worsen the fire. The entire naptha in the plant has been drained out.
“It was a very critical exercise to cut down naphtha flow and shutdown the plant at a time when the fire was raging. However, we could do it successfully. It was an extremely difficult shutdown. Nevertheless, the fire now has been completely extinguished”, a company official said.
According to the official, the shutdown was also necessary to preliminarily conclude the root cause of the fire. The extent of damage is also being calculated.
In a statement, HPL said it has made extensive arrangements to support the injured employees at two-city hospitals in Kolkata. From the plant administration, the families of the injured have been contacted with comprehensive information. All arrangements have been made to facilitate the journey and stay of the family members and relatives of the injured employees in Kolkata.
“The management is committed to look after the welfare of its employees, and will do all that is needed for quick recovery of the injured. The management also reiterates its commitment to maintain highest standards of safely, health and environmental practices, for which it has got due recognition from global agencies”, the statement said.
Among the 13 injured, seven are under the company’s payroll and the rest are part of the contractual staff. HPL officials said that the compensation according to the legal norms will be paid to the injured and the management is hopeful that all the injured will recover and resume their services.