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India pharma plant explosion kills 1, injures 14

25 May 2016

An explosion at Srikar Labs located at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City (JNPC), Parawada, Visakhapatnam, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, resulted in one death and 14 injuries. A local official said the death was caused by ammonia asphyxiation and many of the injuries were caused by gas leakage, as well as some burns.

The fatality was working at the bulk drug manufacturing factory as utility block in-charge.
Preliminary reports said a liquid ammonia tank at the plant exploded following a short circuit, causing a fire which was soon extinguished.
The Times of India (TOI) quoted the local joint chief inspector of factories, J Chandrasekar Varma, saying: "As per the preliminary interpretation of the possible causes, the explosion may have occurred due to the development of excess pressure beyond the capacity of the chiller in the refrigeration plant of the facility."
The chiller cools a mixture of a solvent (methanol) and water to sub-zero temperatures by using ammonia for heat exchange. He said that if the ratio of water and methanol varies there may be a circulation problem as the water turns into ice, which blocks the flow and causes pressure build-up in the equipment. Then, if external heat is used to melt the ice, there may be a chance of the ammonia itself heating up and risking explosion.

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