Thailand factory fire reignited as health concerns about chemicals intensified | Environmental News
On Tuesday, chemicals in a factory on the outskirts of the Thai capital briefly reignited, and another cloud of toxic black smoke floated into the air, highlighting the continuing threat to health from an industrial accident that killed one person and injured dozens of others.
After the fire broke out, it took more than 24 hours for firefighters to put out the fire From the explosion At around 3 am on Monday, it could be heard from a few kilometers away, and the windows and doors of nearby houses were blown away.
Although firefighters tried to prevent the highly flammable chemical styrene monomer from reigniting by continuing to water the site with water and foam, the flames broke out again on Tuesday afternoon and burned for about an hour.
The Mindy Chemical Plant has little left except for the twisted metal frame and the charred remains of the warehouse that was burned in explosions and fires.
More than 60 people were injured in the disaster, including 12 emergency rescuers, and more than 30 of them were hospitalized. A man, identified as an 18-year-old volunteer firefighter, was killed in the fire.
Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng reported from Bangkok that the fire department announced that the fire was under control and was almost extinguished “earlier this morning”, but it broke out again.
“We saw huge black smoke again, and the chemicals in the plastic factory were on fire,” Cheng said. He said that about 200 residents in the area “moved out quickly” again, adding that they were cautious about returning home.
Zheng said that although the fire department stated that the fire was under control again, there was still a danger-especially when it was raining in the area, which might react with chemicals to reignite the fire.
Chumpol Poompuang in the area said that the police questioned the factory manager when investigating the cause of the explosion. The factory manager told them that he and 8 staff were awakened from their sleep by the strong chemical smell at the scene and fled before the explosion. Police commander.
The authorities ordered the evacuation of the area 5 kilometers (3 miles) around the foam and plastic pellet manufacturing plant near Bangkok’s main airport when the plant was burning, told residents to avoid inhaling any smoke, and warned them that it may cause dizziness and vomiting, and in the long term.
On Tuesday, Attapol Charoenchansa, the head of the country’s pollution control department, said that the team is testing the air and water quality in the factory area and is considering reducing the evacuation area to allow some residents to go home.
However, he warned that the rain that started on Tuesday afternoon might flush chemicals into the water source, which would be difficult to control.
The ASEAN Human Rights Councillor is a regional advocacy organization that urges the Thai government to provide the public with more information about released chemicals and all investigation results about possible pollution.
It also emphasized that firefighters and others working on the scene, many of whom only wore government-required masks when fighting the fire, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — or none at all — must be equipped with better protection Equipment during equipment cleanup.
“It’s time to understand the possible impact of fires and explosions and to ensure that all those who are still working nearby are adequately protected,” said Sarah Elago, a member of the organization and a member of the Philippine legislator.
“It is a brutal sight to see firefighters wearing surgical masks fighting against potentially carcinogenic chemicals. The government should urgently provide enough materials for all people who are still in danger,” she said.
Prime Minister Prayut has ordered the authorities to collect as much information as possible on soil, groundwater, urban drinking water and air pollution in order to “mitigate short- and long-term health effects.”
“Although the fire has been contained, our work has not yet been completed,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Officials said the shock wave from the initial explosion damaged about 100 houses and 15 cars.
It is not clear how much economic losses the fire caused to the factory.
Styrene monomer is used in the production of disposable foam boards, cups and other products, and will produce toxic fumes when ignited.
The chemical itself also releases styrene gas, a neurotoxin, which can make people unable to move within a few minutes of inhalation and can be fatal in high concentrations. Last year in Visakhapatnam, India, a styrene gas leak occurred at a chemical plant, killing 12 people and sickening more than 1,000 people.
The area around the factory is a mixture of the old industrial complex and the new residential area built after the opening of the airport in 2006.