LNG leak at Kakkanad a wake-up call for officials
KOCHI: The liquefied natural gas (LNG) leak from the pipeline of Indian Oil Adani Gas Private Limited (IOAGPL) and the resultant fire at Palachuvadu near Kakkanad have raised safety concerns as agencies like KWA, KSEB and telecom companies dig up roads for laying underground cables without taking precautionary measures.
In the wake of this Gas Authority of India Limited (Gail) would convene a meeting of all agencies which used to dig up roads for various purposes.
“It was around 4.40am on Tuesday that the fire broke out. We were digging up the road for laying underground cables as part of augmenting the capacity of Kaloor Substation to 220kV from the existing 110kV. We use horizontal directional drilling (HDD) method for trenching. Kochi corporation, Thrikkakara municipality and PWD prefer HDD as the method would avoid the inconveniences caused by open trenching. We had sought the support of IOAGPL officials,” said deputy chief engineer of trans grid south, KSEB, K Santhosh.
“IOAGPL informed us that gas pipeline is going through the right side of the road while our trench is on the left side. Moreover, the work was being done under the supervision of IOAGPL official. At the spot in Palachuvadu, where the fire occurred, the IOAGPL pipeline was inclined towards the left, which the officials had not conveyed to us. When we went ahead with the drilling, the pipeline got damaged causing gas leak,” he said.
When bubbles appeared in the water in the trench due to LNG leak, KSEB contract workers brought a paraffin lamp to find out the source of the bubble. Soon, the gas leaked out of the pipeline caught fire. IOAGPL officials and fire and rescue services were alerted, and IOAGPL officials turned off the control valve of the pipeline immediately. Fire and rescue personnel doused the fire within a couple of hours.
IOAGPL said that there is no reason to panic in such situations as LNG is safer compared to LPG. “LNG is lighter than air and so it would go up within seconds of leakage. If it was LPG, the entire area would have been devastated,” said asset head of IOAGPL, Kerala, Ajay Pillai.
However, Gail officials said that they are viewing the incident seriously, though there is less chance of accidents due to LNG leakage. “Many agencies are digging up the roads without taking the underground installations into consideration. Through the meeting, we intend to educate all these agencies about the LNG pipelines passing through each area,” said Gail general manager Tony Mathew.