Boiler blast at NLC India plant, 13 dead and 17 reportedly injured
The boiler blast at Unit V in NLC India Ltd in Neyveli in Cuddalore district on Wednesday, 1 July 2020 at around 10h00am.
The boiler blast on Wednesday, 1 July 2020 at Unit V of miner and electricity generator NLC India Ltd's plant in Neyveli in India killed six people initially, local police said, the second deadly boiler explosion in two months. Around 9h45am, contract workers and permanent staff members were active at the unit when the accident occurred. Thick smoke billowed out of the plant. According to the NLCIL sources, “Unit V shut down after it tripped on Tuesday night. The workers and engineering staff were attempting to revive it when a fire broke out in the boiler, resulting in the explosion.” Power generation in the unit was stalled after the accident. All other units in the station and other thermal power plants worked as usual. Police officer Suresh Kanan said 16 workers were hospitalised with injuries at Apollo Hospital in Chennai near the power plant in Tamil Nadu state. Of the 17 injured, 16 were referred to Chennai with more than 40 percent burns. Kanan said the cause of the blast was being investigated. The plant is located at Neyveli, around 190 kilometres (120 miles) south of Chennai, the state capital and employs 2 000 workers.
Initially, six people died and 17 suffered burns in the blast. The 16 workers who suffered serious burns were referred to Apollo Hospital in Chennai where five others succumbed to the burns in the intervening period and another two subsequently.
The Neyveli plant is the only one in the country that uses lignite as fuel.
Following the incident, the state police department are investigating the blast and have filed cases under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. “We have filed an FIR against unknown persons for culpable homicide and criminal negligence. A senior officer has been appointed to investigate the blasts. Apart from this, NLCIL have also shut down all the units in TPS-2 and have formed inquiry teams,” said Sree Abhinav, Superintendent of Police, Cuddalore district. Since the district collector had assumed office only a day before the incident, he declined to comment on the issue.
In a press release issued immediately after the accident, NLCIL management stated that a high-level inquiry into the accident will be conducted under the leadership of a retired director of the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) and that an internal inquiry is also being conducted. They also stated that the person-in-charge of the unit at the TPS-2 has been suspended.
The incident, which occurred when the unit was shut for maintenance, was the second deadly accident at the plant in two months. An accident at the same power station on 7 May 2020 killed five people and injured three.
More than three people die and at least 46 are injured every day in industrial accidents in India, according to government data for the three years ended 2016.
Data showed that Tamil Nadu, where the NLC India plant is located, is the third-most dangerous state in the country to be a worker, behind heavily industrialised Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The company said all four operational 210 MW units had been ordered to shut down for an immediate safety audit and that the unit head of the plant had been suspended pending an inquiry by the two committees.
Sources: Reuters, Fire Safety Academy, Hindu Times