Blast at Indian pharmaceutical plant injures 16

Article by Amanda Jasi

A REACTOR exploded at a pharmaceutical plant in India injuring 16 workers, according to reports.

The explosion occurred on 24 August at a Nectar Lifesciences plant in Dera Bassi, India, in a unit responsible for the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients. According to conflicting reports, there were as many as 28 employees in the building at the time, as reported by the Hindustan Times. The report adds that the blast took place on the first floor, and it caused the building to partially collapse. Additionally, the explosion triggered a minor fire which was immediately brought under control, according to fire officials.

According to The Times of India, seven of the 16 workers were burned whilst the other nine were injured by the building collapse. Reports are conflicting, but as many as five of the workers received major burns, with one reportedly in critical condition.

The Hindustan Times reports that three small reactors were damaged in the explosion and their parts fell on one of two tankers of chemicals that had arrived at the site earlier on the 24 August. This led to a chemical leak which was plugged before any further damage was caused.

According to Indian newspaper, The Tribune, an entire wall of the Nectar Lifesciences building was blown away by the blast, and a major part of the chemical unit was turned into “mangled remains of concrete and steel”. Additionally, the windowpanes of an adjacent unit were broken, and metal was scattered in an area of around 100 m.

The plant was shut immediately after the blast reports the Hindustan Times.

The company said in a prepared statement that the cause of the explosion is unknown. The Hindustan Times reports that an investigation of the incident is underway.

According to the Hindustan Times, in 2016, another blast occurred at a Nectar Lifesciences plant unit, which “gutted” the building but there were no casualties. Reportedly, six incidents of minor fire had been reported prior. The report adds that the plant was directed to close in October 2018 due to environmental violations but reopened after staying the order.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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