Mumbai: After 3 Unsolved Gas Leaks, BMC Drafts SOP for the Fire Brigade and NDRF

Mumbai: After 3 Unsolved Gas Leaks, BMC Drafts SOP for the Fire Brigade and NDRF

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sought the help of the fire brigade as well as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to collect air samples from locations where gas leaks are reported. This comes after Mumbai saw three cases of a mysterious gas leak over the past 12 months. 

The civic body has reportedly charted out a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that mark out the roles of various agencies in the event of a gas leak. However, the Municipal Commissioner is yet to finalize the SOP. 

The sources of the three gas leaks mentioned above have still not been identified, causing worry and confusion among the locals. However, one common link between all three gas leaks is that they were reported in the same areas - Chembur, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Vikhroli, and Mulund.

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“The NDRF has the equipment to collect air samples, however, the fire brigade will procure the same equipment to be ready for another such gas leak. The samples could be tested which would narrow down our search. As per complaints, the gas leak has not stayed for more than 15 minutes in the air which is why it has been difficult to detect the source of the leak,” Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Disaster Management) said.

Explaining the challenges of identifying the source of the mysterious smell, Rakesh Kumar, Director of CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI), said - “Since it’s not a continuous foul smell, it’s difficult to detect its source. But there should be a mapping of all residential and commercial pockets in areas where these complaints are frequent. Then, we need to map all smaller storage where chemicals are kept to find out if any illegal activities are being carried out.”

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When the mysterious gas leaks were probed by the authorities, industries and companies that handle hazardous materials were asked to inform the fire brigade and the disaster management cell about their functioning. 

Further, these companies were also asked to inform the authorities while transporting dangerous chemicals in addition to specifying that transportation of such materials within the city should be done at a fixed time of the day. This would allow authorities to accurately track the movements of trucks and vehicles carrying chemicals and hazardous materials from factories. 

Surprisingly, there is still no conclusive report on what caused these leaks. However, there are a few theories currently circulating among the authorities. A senior official from the Mumbai Fire Brigade said, “There is a chemical odorant (ethyl mercaptan) that is added to cooking gas so that it’s easy to detect leaks since the gas is otherwise odourless. The odourant is transported through vehicles which could have leaked accidentally. There was another speculation of gases emanating from sewer lines which is unlikely.”

ReadComplaints Of A Possible Gas Leak From Various Parts Of Mumbai Including Ghatkopar, Mulund, Vikhroli, Powai

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