Mangaluru: As part of the annual Chemical Disaster Prevention Day observance, a one-day workshop on “Management of Industrial Disasters in Petroleum and Chemical Industries” was organised by the Karnataka State Safety Institute, Department of Factories, Boilers, Industrial Safety & Health (FBISH) in association with the Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemical Limited (MRPL) at the MRPL Club House, here on December 9.
The workshop was inaugurated by Director of Refinery at MRPL, M Venkatesh by lighting the traditional lamp along with other dignitaries.
T G Manjunatha, Director of the Department of FBISH, said that disasters were part of the eco system and were not new to the mankind. “However, as time advanced, man made disasters also became more predominant. The explosion of nuclear bomb in 1945, the Mexico LPG explosion in 1984 followed by Bhopal Gas Tragedy in India on 3rd December 1984, the terrorist attack on WTC in 2001, Jaipur IOCL incident during 2009 are few examples of man made disasters. In the recent days, the man made disasters have assumed a greater dimension which can cause extensive damage, loss of life and create fear psychosis. While natural disasters are very destructive like earthquakes and tsunamis, they are to a large extent predictable, giving more time for preparedness and mitigation measures. But man-made disasters are unpredictable and are quite often very disastrous. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy was one of the worst chemical, industrial disasters in the world,” he added.
As a result, important conventions, amendments to series of legislations, introductions of new enactments viz., Environment (Protection) Act 1986, Disaster Management Act 2005, publication of guidelines to strengthen the emergency preparedness and safety measures to prevent such disasters have been undertaken by the central and state governments. It has become customary to observe 4th of December of every year as “Chemical Disaster Prevention Day” all over India and is a grim reminder of the worst accident in the history of the chemical industry. Industries are required to review their system holistically and their grey areas to provide confidence to the society to mitigate disaster in a proactive manner.
The state of Karnataka has about 1100 hazardous industries, in which 74 industries have been classiﬁed as Major Accident Hazard Industries, scattered in 16 districts of the state. Out of these 74 industries, 68 of them are either Petroleum based or product using industries. 11 are situated in Dakshina Kannada District. He further said that the Department of FBISH will make sincere efforts in sensitizing the management of industries dealing with hazardous materials to be more diligent and compliant to the rules applicable to them, while also urging the management of MRPL to review their systems and make the country disaster-free.
In his presidential speech, Director of Refinery at MRPL, M Venkatesh said that we need to recognise the events of 3rd December 1984 and see that it is never repeated again. Various statuary bodies, rules and regulations are present to guide industries and to enforce the rules when an industry fails to fall in line. “We are honoured to have such a body that is both industry-friendly and at the same time, never allows industries to violate the set norms. Lot of thought goes into setting up an industry, and at the end of the day, with so many rules to be followed and applications to be made, renewing licences every year, etc., we may feel that since we are running the industry, we know better than them [statuary bodies]. But we have to appreciate the fact that statuary bodies have a broad spectrum of understanding about the faults that have occurred in various types of industries, locations, etc. and hence they are in a better position to guide industries. That is why, the onus of meeting and following the rules and regulations diligently fall on the industry and we should adhere and keep on improving on these rules.”
He further said that these types of conferences and workshop allow free-thinking, free-discussion and interaction between the authorities and the industry owners, private or public. “The problems faced by the industry, be it small scale or large, are more or less of the same nature; the magnitude and impact of these problems may vary. All efforts have to be taken towards preventing these problems in the first stage, and if and when a disaster happens, we need a proper disaster mitigation plan. We cannot survive without industry. We need to develop and build but simultaneously, we also need to check for safety and be cautious,” said Venkatesh.
Venkatesh also announced that MRPL had been tasked to open a Skill Development Centre in the district, aimed at developing the skills oriented towards industry needs. “It is an industrious task, but we will not fail the district. It is very important that we have a highly skilled workforce which is inherently going to build plans and safe systems wherein safety comes right from construction.”
The workshop dealt with topics like the Initiatives by Karnataka for Management of Industrial Disasters; Risk Mitigation, Emergency Preparedness and Management in Petroleum Industry; Rescue and Combat Procedures in Disasters – Involvement of Responders and their Importance and others.
A R Vijayendra (Joint Director of Factories, Bengaluru), Dr Elangovan R K (Deputy Director General, Directorate General Factory Advise Service and Labour Institute, Mumbai), Dr G S Saini (Director, National Civil Defence College, Nagpur), Dr Ramachandra Kamath (Professor, Dept of Public Health, Manipal University, Manipal), V L Krishnamoorthy (Group General Manager of Operations, MRPL) and other senior management members of MRPL participated in the workshop. PRO MRPL Lekshmi Kumaran delivered the vote of thanks. Tokens of appreciation were given to dignitaries. Roshan compered the programme.
The Chemical Disaster Prevention Day that is held annually aims to:
Create awareness about minimizing the use of hazardous chemicals, use of safe and environment friendly chemicals, adapting right and safe processes, right equipment, identification of hazards, mitigation measures and need for emergency management.
Create safety awareness amongst the industries and traders in manufacturing, storing, using or transporting of hazardous chemicals.
Enlighten the managements about their roles and responsibilities in preventing the disasters, importance of training to the workers, public awareness.
Assist the State Government in effectively handling the chemical emergencies and in evolving regular programmes to be more vigil.
Informing and enlightening all the concerned district functionaries about hazards in the district, handling methods, available resources, etc.
Bring awareness to the public living in the vicinity of the factory about the hazards and precautions to be taken.