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Water purification plant gas leak kills one, injures two

20 July 2022

A toxic gas leak at a water purification plant in South Korea killed one person and injured two others on July 20. The incident happened in the southeastern city of Daegu at the city operated Jukgok Water Purification Plant, Yonhap news agency reports.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The leak occurred just before 10:00 local time when a private contractor in his 60s collapsed. He was one of two contractors hired to clean the facility’s water storage tank. The worker was rushed to hospital but died from hydrogen cyanide poisoning, officials said.

Yonhap news agency reports that two civil servants also collapsed inside the water storage tank after they had attempted to rescue the contractor. Both are reported to be in critical conditions. The second private contractor managed to escape the storage tank after he saw his colleague collapse. He told police that he could smell hydrogen cyanide gas while climbing down into the tank.

After the injured were taken to hospital, firefighters entered the storage tank and conducted air monitoring. They said that 47 parts-per million (PPM) of hydrogen cyanide gas was measured inside the tank.

Jukgok Water Purification Plant officials said that the water storage tank had been left to ventilate naturally before the cleaning work had begun, however it is unknown whether any measurements had been taken of the atmosphere to determine whether hydrogen cyanide was present before the contractors entered the tank.

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