LPG tanker accidents in Kerala, one rescue vehicle for 14 districts

LPG-Tanker-AccidentKochi: LPG is playing havoc in the state of Kerala both in practical and economic level owing to price raise and also due to the dangers that are caused by LPG tanker lorries meeting with accidents. The state is still ill-equipped with safety equipments required for handling such emergency situation.

On the latest of such accidents that claimed life occurred in Karunagapally in Kollam, seven people lost their lives when the tanker carrying LPG burst into flame. The maximum casualty was reported in August 27, 2012 at Chala in Kannur where 20 people lost their lives when the tanker exploded after a collision.

Addressing the inability of the state to act on such emergencies, the State Management Authoriy (SDMA) stressed the importance of setting up a state wide mechanism to respond to sudden emergencies. A tanker carrying LPG met with accident in the National Highway near Angamaly on January 7 and the traffic was in a total stand still.

The state lacks any specialized equipment that can effectively handle such a panic situation which hampers the preparedness of the rescue team to act as the situation demands. For all the 14 districts of the state there is only one Rescue vehicle that is fit for handling such an emergency situation. The rescue vehicle acquired by the  Indian Oil Corporation is now parked in Eranakulam so as to reach accident site in central Kerala as soon as possible. This rescue vehicle is equipped with facilities that can transfer LPG gas from an accident affected Tanker or any gas for that concern.

Considering the increasing number of LPG tanker accidents in Kerala, the SDMA has requested the Chemical Emergency Management Response Centre at Kakkanad to acquire two more rescue vehicles which can be deployed in the districts of Kozhikode and Trivandrum to reduce the response time.

Sekhar L. Kuriakose, member, SDMA said “An emergency rescue vehicle is too expensive to procure and maintain, putting it out of reach of the State government. But oil companies can utilise the funds earmarked for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to acquire it,”.

Faisel T. Illiyas, Assistant Professor, Institute of Land and Disaster Management (ILDM) said “With LPG tankers crisscrossing the road network in Kerala, it is imperative to have a detailed district-level emergency plan,” He added that “In a bullet tanker, the LPG is transported as liquid under high pressure. On accidental release, it quickly vaporises into highly combustible gas which can catch fire or explode, making it difficult to contain except with specialised equipment.”

Other than the rescue vehicle stationed in Eranakulam, the nearest available rescue vehicle are parked in Coimbatore and Mangalore, which cannot reach the accident scene at the stipulated time due to the heavy traffic.