Ice plant to face penalty over accidental ammonia release

THE City Local Environment and Natural Reso Office (Clenro) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will look into possible penalties that will be imposed on an ice plant in Barangay Puerto which accidentally released ammonia on Monday night.

Clenro Chief Armen Cuenca clarified that there was no explosion at the plant contrary to initial reports. He said the release of the chemical gas was an automatic safety response of the plant due to high pressure.

"Ang relief valve or ang safety net sa plant kung adunay trouble, mag-automatic ug open ang valve kay nag high pressure man causing the cooling system to malfunction. That's why ni-automatic ug release ang ammonia," Cuenca said.

He said the automatic ammonia release was a safety net, and prevented the entire plant from exploding.

The inspection team also learned that the incident happened because no one manned the plant which operates 24/7.

"Mao na ang atong tan-awon kay initially we saw naay negligence on their part," he said.

Cuenca said the EMB has called for a conference and invited the owner of the plant to shed light on the incident. The EMB will decide on the penalty to be imposed on the firm.

The accidental ammonia release caused alarm and panic among residents, who felt their eyes burn.

But Cuenca allayed fears of the residents and assured that ammonia will not cause harm.

"Gas man so mag-evaporate lang walay angay kabalak-an kay nawala na," he said.

Ammonia, or NH3, is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen. A stable binary hydride and the simplest pnictogen hydride, it is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. It is used as a refrigerant in ice plants.

Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in air causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and can result in blindness, lung damage or death. But inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.


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