ERC - Past Major Emergencies

Support to Quake hit Gujarat State

The Gujarat State was on the International Scene due to fury of the worst earth quake which devastated the State very badly and shook the people across the country. The high intensity earth quake hit the Western State of Gujarat in the morning of 26th January 2001 with its epicentre about 20 Kms North - East of Bhuj, a central town in Kutch district. The spread of the quake covered large area covering entire Gujarat State with its intensity of 6.9 on Richter scale. Some agencies, however, reported the quake intensity to be 8.1 on Richter scale which caused immense loss of property, claiming thousands of lives and rendering multifold number of people homeless and sending the entire humanity in to deep shock.

The cruelty of nature which shed its shadow on Gujarat State was out of our control but later the people and the Government agencies left nothing unturned to bring the situation back to normal routine by launching massive rescue operation and rehabilitation programmes. Besides the response from Government agencies and people, the NGOs, voluntary agencies and International aid agencies also joined hands to cope with the devastating fall-out of such nightmare.

In those moment of greatest ever tragedy of Independent India, the Emergency Response Centre (E.R.C.), Bhopal also geared up and extended every possible technical support to the Gujarat State from its existing resources. The support was aimed to equip the industries with technical information and prepare and strengthen them for any eventuality.

During this natural calamity there was other area also which needed prime attention, i.e. vast industrial belt in the Gujarat State which had hundreds of tons of chemicals, including hazardous and toxic chemicals, stored inside the premises or warehouses, could pose parallel threat to the mankind and the environment, in case of their accidental escape from storage areas or industrial equipment, due to the effects of post-quake tremors. Considering this the E.R.C. alerted most of the chemical industries in the Gujarat State, specially located at Vapi, Ankleshwar and Nandesari Industrial area and requested them to observe all possible safety and mitigative measures in advance to minimize the risk to the people and the environment due to accidental release of chemicals. Industrial authorities were also requested to make industry workers and people of nearby area aware with the hazards of area specific chemicals and relevant first aid measures.

To organize the activities in planned manner the ERC quickly inventorized the list of chemical industries located in the Gujarat State and contacted them directly. The E.R.C. also established contact with the Regional offices of Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the district Collectors/Chairperson of District Crisis Groups (DCG) in this connection to ensure adopting necessary safety measures. The communication with the Gujarat State Crisis Group and Disaster Mitigation Institute (DMI), Ahmedabad was also done on the same lines so that authorities could pay their attention to aspects pertaining to mitigation of chemical accidents in the wake of post-quake tremors.

The hi-tech means of communication used during ‘Operation Quake Relief’ were e.mail, fax and telephone to ensure fastest delivery of message. The initial inventorization of industries was done by extracting information from the Internet and later this exercise was supported by various regional offices of Gujarat Pollution Control Board who fed the requisite information to the E.R.C. The technical support extended by ERC was based on emergency planning, Material Safety Data Sheet and International Chemical Safety Cards of chemical, first aid measures for relevant chemicals etc. This Centre also assured the target groups to provide them further technical assistance depending on their query and need basis.

Though the ERC do not claim high to have availability or capability of providing solutions to all technical queries but can assure to arrange it from other sources or through Expert Crisis Groups. The technical queries from industries and other agencies would also help ERC to judge the needs of target groups and review the things to further strengthen and widen the scope of available resources.

A report detailing ‘Operation Quake Relief’ under title ‘ERC’s Assistance to Gujarat State’ has been prepared and the same is available as reference document in ERC’s library.

Support to cyclone hit Orissa State.

Services of ERC are not confined to the Madhya Pradesh State only but it extends support to other States also. In the year 1999 this Centre provided technical support and guidance to the Orissa State during super cyclone period to help at the time of ammonia leakage incidence from M/s. Paradeep phosphate Ltd., and M/s. Oswal Chemical Fertilizers Ltd., at Paradeep. Nearly 35000 MT of ammonia was stored in the premises of both industries. There was a sudden disruption of power supply in the industrial estate which lasted for quite a substantial time resulting in failure of water cooling system. This caused increase in temperature inside the ammonia storage tanks consequently pressure started building up inside the tank. To prevent the possible rupture of tanks the industry authorities started releasing the ammonia in the atmosphere on controlled rate which created panic in and around the area owing to the pungent and penetrating odor of the gas. At this time of juncture the E.R.C., Bhopal immediately contacted not only the district administration but also the authorities of the industries and communicated the requisite technical inputs to them to avert the possible catastrophe.

The technical assistance was also provided to Gujarat State during major oil spill incidence which severely affected Arabian Sea coast and marine national park at Vadinar near Salaya in the following year.

Chlorine Leakage at Swimming Pool

E.R.C. faced was at the time of incident of leakage of chlorine gas in the premises of one of the swimming pools in the capital city of Bhopal when the leakage of gas created panic in and around the area in the midnight in February 2003. The technical input included the information about specific protective clothing required by the fire and rescue personnel, safe distance for the initial isolation of residents of the area and the specific chemicals required for the neutralization of spilled/leaked material. This was followed by another chlorine leakage incident in the Eastern Province of the M.P. State in which leakage took place from a paper industry affecting 88 people. The district administration and the industrial authorities were contacted immediately to extend possible technical support. Apart from basic technical information some other information, as desired by the District Collector, was forwarded within hours of time.

Leakage of Suspected Poisonous Gas in District Raisen

The last local emergency E.R.C. faced was an incidence of leakage of suspected poisonous gas in district Raisen, in the late evening on October 14, 2006, which triggered panic in three villages, namely Mendua, Nayapura and Teerath nagar around Kiratpur. Nearly 225 persons reported at Government hospital at Bhopal due to the effect of poisonous gas. On receiving the information about incidence of episodal pollution, the ERC coordinated the matter without losing any time. The relevant literature on suspected chemicals was also made available to the concerned investigating team as a part of supportive material. The technical input included the information about symptoms on exposure to suspected poisonous chemicals, viz. Tear Gases, Chlorine and Ammonia, their first aid measures and antidotes and also their safe disposal. Information on protective clothing for handling of these chemicals and analytical aspects were also made available to the concerned. There were number of queries poured in through e.mail ranging from primary information to diffusion modeling and analysis of data to compute the area falling under dispersion range. This all was done by ERC during the time of crisis using available resources. Details of this are available in Crisis Response Report under title "Incidence of leakage of Suspected Poisonous Gas in District Raisen, Madhya Pradesh". .

Tsunami Assistance

During the Tsunami devastation the ERC actively coordinated with national disaster management agencies at centre and the Crisis Groups in the Tsunami affected districts of southern regions. Contact with State Crisis Groups of the affected States was also established to know if any technical support is needed to them. Looking to possible chances of breaking out of epidemic in the affected areas, the ERC immediately provided the requisite information about chemicals required to control the vectors and information on first aids and medicines for use in case if epidemic erupts. Other help lines were also extended through the web-site. The nature of support was in the form of providing technical input, like one tabulated below :

Epidemic Control Measures – Requirement Details

S.No. Disease First Aid * Chemicals Suitable for Vector Control
1. Malaria Artemether/Lumefantrine
Artesunate + amodiaquine
Artesunate + SP
Artesunate plus mefloquine
Chloroquine + SP
Amodiaquine + SP
Mefloquin + SP (Fansimef)
Atovaquone + Proguanil (Malarone)
Quinine + Tetracycline
Quinine + Clindamycin
Fosmidomycin + Clindamycin
Tetracycline, Halofantrine, Coartem, Fansidar, Artecom
Temephos, Malathion, Fenthion, Fenitrothion, oregano Phosphorous, synthetic pyrethroid
2. Cholera Tetracycline, furoxone, cipro, Bactrim, rehydration therapy, Intake of adequate water Ethanol, Iodine, Glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, sodium hypochlorite, Hydrogen peroxide.
3. Plague Streptomycin, Gentamycin, Tetracycline, Doxycline, Chloramphenicol, Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole -
4. Dengue Take full bed rest.
Drink plenty of water.
Acetaminophen or other fever control medicine may be taken.
Aspirin not recommended.
Pyrethrum, Temephos, Malathion, Fenthion, Fenitrothion, oregano Phosphorous (Chlorpyrifos, Fenitrothion, Fenithion, Malathion, Naled,Primiphos methyl), synthetic pyrethroid (Cyfluthrin, Ypermethrin, Cyphenothrin, Deltamethrin, D-Phenothrin, Etofenpros, Permethrin, Zeta Cypermethrin).

* To be administered under doctor’s advise.

The other target groups which have been rendered support on need basis in the past includes Central Pollution Control Board, District administration, academic institutions, common citizens etc.

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