Chennai NewsNews

Ennore Ammonia Gas Leak: NGT Committee Estimates 67.6 Tonnes of Gas Leakage

The technical committee investigating the Ennore ammonia gas leak has disclosed that approximately 67.638 tonnes of ammonia gas leaked from the undersea pipeline of Coromandel International Limited on December 26, 2023. Submitted before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Southern Bench during a hearing on the gas leak, the detailed report highlighted the sequence of events leading to the incident.

According to the report, the pipeline may have sustained damage from boulders along the shoreline that shifted during Cyclone Michaung, which struck Chennai in early December 2023. The failure to detect this damage before the pre-cooling operation, conducted before unloading 6,000 tonnes of ammonia, resulted in the gas release into the environment, affecting nearby villages’ health and ambient air and seawater quality.

The committee attributed sole responsibility for the accident to the unit, emphasizing its legal liability to compensate for environmental and public health damage. Notably, none of the 19 ammonia sensors within the plant detected abnormal levels of ammonia, a discrepancy attributed to sensor placement and wind direction mismatch. In response to the incident, the Tamil Nadu government directed legal action against the fertilizer unit and ordered a compensation of ₹5.92 crore.

The committee’s investigation also highlighted the last audit dates conducted by the Indian Register of Shipping and internal audits by the unit, shedding light on the safety oversight preceding the leak. The NGT Bench further instructed the committee to examine potential leakage from the storage tank within Coromandel’s premises and requested the company’s input on safety protocols and automatic safety mechanisms. The case is slated for further deliberation on March 5.