Government asked to inspect ice plants to prevent ammonia leaks-A A +A
Monday, June 25, 2012
MANILA -- Toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition proposed an immediate inspection with public participation of ice and cold storage facilities in the country to prevent community and workplace safety problems due to ammonia leaks.
In this way, the group said the government can check if there are engineering flaws that can potentially result in future leaks just like what happened last Saturday when hundreds of residents of Sta. Cruz village flee after the gas seeped out from the Genuino Ice Plant.
The group directed its appeal to key government agencies in charge of chemical accident response and mitigation such as the Bureau of Fire Protection, Occupational Safety and Health Center, Environmental Management Bureau, Environmental and Occupational Health Office and local government units.
Ammonia or more specifically “anhydrous ammonia” is a commonly used refrigerant in large freezing and refrigeration plants such as those involved in ice making, dairy products manufacturing and cold storage.
Exposure to ammonia, a colorless, corrosive and highly irritating gas with suffocating smell, can irritate or burn the nose, throat and respiratory tract, eyes and skin, and cause dizziness and nausea among victims.
“We hope our proposal will also trigger greater recognition of the community’s right to know about hazardous chemicals being produced, stored, used, treated or disposed of in industrial facilities, some of which may be located next to homes and schools, and lead to the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes,” said Manny Calonzo, president of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Gas leak episodes involving ice plants also occurred last April 1 in Manggahan, Pasig City that caused the hospitalization of three persons.
Last February 29, an ammonia gas leak from the ENL ice plant and storage in Barangay Ayala, Zamboanga City, sickened over 100 villagers. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)