Wednesday, September 28, 2022

EXCLUSIVE: Another fire breaks out at ONGC’s Uran plant in a month

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New Delhi: Barely a month after a fire broke out at state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) Uran plant, another fire broke out at the gas sweetening unit (GSU) of the plant on Friday, sources said. They added that the fire has been brought under control and there have been no casualties but nothing is known about how it started.

Second incident in a month at one of India’s safest plants

This is the second incident in a month’s time that has been reported at ONGC's Uran plant. It must be noted that the Uran plant has been the recipient of several safety awards and has been deemed to have par excellence safety standards in the past by various organisations.

What is a GSU?

Gas sweetening, also known as amine scrubbing, and acid gas removal, refers to a group of processes that use aqueous solutions of various alkylamines (commonly referred to simply as amines) to remove hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) from gases. It is a common unit process used in refineries and is also used in petrochemical plants, natural gas processing plants and other industries.

The previous incident at ONGC's Uran plant

A total of four people were killed in the previous fire incident at Uran plant on September 3. Those killed included an ONGC employee and three Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) men. Additionally, three people were injured. It had then taken firefighters two hours to douse the blaze and bring the situation under control. In a series of tweets, ONGC had then said that fire broke out in a stormwater drain of the oil and gas processing plant at Uran, 45 km from Mumbai. The public sector company had said that gas from the plant has been diverted to a plant in Gujarat’s Hazira. Gas supply from the plant had been affected in the aftermath of the accident.

What does the management say?

While admitting that there has been a fire incident, the ONGC management said in a tweet that it was a "minor fire" caused during "routine maintenance job." "News item regarding GSU gutted in fire in Uran plant is factually incorrect and misleading. During routine maintenance job, minor fire was observed on the floor of GSU which was extinguished within minutes. There is no damage to the people and property," ONGC said in a tweet. While PSU Watch has not been able to ascertain the scale of the incident, it stands by its report that a fire has been reported at the ONGC facility.

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