Chemical blaze racks up huge bill

national June 28, 2014 00:00

By Sutinan Kongsin
The Nation

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Damage in estate put at more than Bt1 billion

A chemical warehouse at the Bang Pu Industrial Estate has been declared a dangerous and off-limits zone as a massive fire continued to rage there yesterday despite a major fire-fighting effort. 
The damage is estimated at well over Bt1 billion. 
As of press time, the level of sulphur dioxide was still a little above the safe limit.
Two people have been hospitalised due to exposure to toxic fumes. One of them, 65-year-old Samlee Onnomdee, is in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. The other, Nitta Chimnok, was sent to the same hospital with a throat irritation, vomiting and nausea. She works at a firm some 500m from the fire. 
The fire started yesterday morning in the 19-rai compound of Bang Pu Intermodal Systems Co Ltd and quickly engulfed the whole facility. 
According to witnesses, the fire seemed to have started at the cold-storage zone. 
“At first we tried to extinguish the fire ourselves but soon found out that wasn’t possible,” Sombat Khummee, one of the firm’s employees, said. “So we quickly alerted relevant officials.” 
Lieutenant Nipon Kongpoon of Bang Pu Police Station said he received the report on the fire at around 9.30am yesterday. 
Chemicals inside the warehouse included inflammable melamine, nylon, resin, grammoxone, thinner, weed-killer and pesticide. 
“We believe there must have been stylene inside too because the fumes are black and emits a bad smell,” said Sumetha Wichienphet from the Pollution Control Department said. 
Stylene is a volatile organic compound.
Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand governor Veerapong Chaiperm, who inspected the scene, said firemen had control of the blaze. 
Fireman Adirek Mekloy said: “We can control the blaze to an extent but we will have to dispatch fire-fighters into the building to extinguish the fire.” 
About 1,000 employees and workers at the warehouse were evacuated. 
“There is a risk that the warehouse structure will crumble,” said deputy Samut Prakan Governor Wanchai Kongkasame. 
He said he had already instructed the Tambon Praksa Municipality to set up an evacuation centre for people affected by the fumes. 
Locals have been wearing facial masks. 
Pollution Control Department director general Wichien Jungrungruang said he had already assigned his deputy Sunee Piyapanpong to closely monitor the situation and air quality in the area. 
It remains unclear how the fire started.  Police are investigating and will also consult experts. 

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