Neyveli Plant boiler blast | NGT directs Centre to undertake safety audit of thermal power stations

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel passed the order after taking note of a report submitted by a committee constituted by it.

Taking note of the boiler blast at Neyveli Lignite Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Centre to undertake safety audit of thermal power stations throughout the country within six months in order to avoid incidents arising out of the leakage of hazardous gases.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel passed the order after taking note of a report submitted by a committee constituted by it.

According to the report, the cause of the incident is failure of the staff handling the situation which did not have the knowledge of the standard operating procedure and of the process.

“The staff was not given due training and requisite work permits. Thus, the occupier, the head of the operation and maintenance and the safety officer are mainly responsible for the accident. There is a violation of safety norms under Section 38 of the Factories Act, 1948. There is also a violation of the Manufacture, Storage, Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989. In the process, the hazardous gases are generated, attracting the said Rules,” the Bench noted.

The committee also told the NGT that it is mandatory to prepare on-sight and off-sight emergency plan and holding of mock drills once in six months.

Standard operating procedure has not been followed nor appropriate training given to the staff handling the process, the report said adding that the safety protocols have not been followed.

“We direct the Secretaries, Ministries of Power and Coal, Government of India, in coordination with such other Departments/Institutions as may be necessary, to undertake safety audit of similarly placed thermal power stations, throughout the country expeditiously, preferably within six months, to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future,” the Bench said.

The green panel also directed the power plant to adopt all safety measures which may be regularly monitored and audited by teams of experts on the subject and also by the Regulators.

The tribunal had earlier slapped an interim penalty of ₹5 crore on NLC India Limited in connection with a boiler blast at Neyveli Lignite Power Plant in Tamil Nadu in which 13 workers died and 10 were injured on July 1.

The NGT had also constituted an independent committee comprising of the Central Pollution Control Board, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, District Magistrate, Cuddalore, NEERI and IIT Chennai to visit the site and ascertain facts taking into account the version of the industrial unit and other stakeholders.

Thirteen persons were killed and 10 others injured when a boiler exploded at the NLC India’s thermal plant on July 1. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board filed a report mentioning that the industry has seven boiler units to produce electric power of 1470 MW.

The mishap occurred at the fifth unit of the thermal power station-II (210 MWx7) when workers were in the process of resuming operations on July 1.

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