Singapore

Company fined $200,000 for chlorine leak

It pleaded guilty to failing to ensure safety of people involved, leading to seven people taken to hospital

A company was fined $200,000 for a chlorine leak incident on Sept 4, 2016, in which seven people were taken to hospital.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said Chemical Industries (Far East) had pleaded guilty to a charge under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety and health of the people involved.

The incident involved a chlorine leak in a cylinder in Chemical Industries' Jalan Samulun chlorine storage facility in Tuas.

The leak triggered an alarm from one of the facility's chlorine detectors, and a worker activated the chlorine gas emergency scrubber and exhaust system.

Two workers donned protective equipment and tried to stop the leak but were unsuccessful.

Chemical Industries then called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for help.

Three fire engines, four hazardous materials appliances, three ambulances and two support vehicles were dispatched to the scene.

A specialist team plugged the source of the leak, while another used three water jets to dilute the chlorine vapour in the air.

Operations ended the day.

SBS Transit diverted bus service 249 for about 1½ hours because of the chemical leak, and workers in the area were also evacuated.

Two SCDF officers and five members of the public outside the workplace were momentarily exposed to the leaked chlorine gas, which is corrosive.

They experienced problems ranging from eye irritation to difficulties in breathing, and were taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital before being discharged on the same day.

Investigations revealed the company had failed to maintain the integrity of the plug of the container in which the chlorine was stored. The plug was severely corroded, leading to the leak.

MOM said the company also failed to establish and implement a detailed and effective emergency response plan.

Furthermore, Chemical Industries neither installed its emergency scrubber and exhaust system according to design, nor maintained a safe air change rate in its workplace.

MOM's major hazards department director Go Heng Huat said: "The multiple safety breaches showed a clear disregard of the hazards at the workplace and had posed a safety risk to the public. The MOM will not hesitate to prosecute companies that flout safety regulations."

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