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February 2, 2001
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Kandla port sitting on a volcano

Ramesh Menon in Ahmedabad

The damage the earthquake wrought on Kandla port is not what worries officials there.

"Kandla port is sitting on a volcano of a different kind," says Gandhidham resident Jagdish Pandya, referring to the leakage of a deadly insecticide and highly inflammable paraffin wax which together constitute a huge fire hazard.

A tank containing 2,100 metric tonnes of acronitrile -- commonly known as ACM, a deadly chemical used in the manufacture of pesticides -- has cracked. The ACM has leaked and spilled on the ground at the port. Another tank with paraffin wax has also developed a crack and leaked. Both of them have got mixed on land, and the cocktail could easily catch a fire.

Officials are desperately trying to put layers of soil on the spill to prevent it from spreading and catching fire. They are constantly supervising the pumping of the spilled explosive cocktail into another tank to prevent it from spreading further and catching fire.

The operation has been going on for three days now.

A K Joti, chairman, Kandla Port Trust, told that 600 metric tonnes of the spilled liquid had already been pumped out; another 500 metric tonnes remained. He said all preventive methods had been employed to prevent a disaster.

IPCL experts from Vadodara are now in Kandla to direct and supervise the delicate operation.

The Complete Coverage | List of earthquake sites

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