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Transportation of Hazardous Chemicals Products of Caustic-Chlorine Industry
V K Kapur, Consultant. During transit of hazardous chemical products, there is a high possibility of chemical products being exposed, thus incurring heavy damages on life, property and environment, hence it is important to take stringent measures and precautions to ensure safe transportation. This article throws an insight on the hazards of chemical products during transportation and on ways how this can be curbed.

What is a hazardous Chemical?
Any chemical which can create a catastrophic situation due to its release into the atmosphere causing serious injuries in contact with human body or due to inhalation can be termed as hazardous chemical. In transit, the goods would be subjected to bad roads leading to impacts, vibration, compression and other adverse effects, Also exposures to harmful environments may result into an emergency. These and other factors such as improper packing of the contents and poor storage may also lead to release of chemicals to the environment resulting in emergencies like fire, explosion and toxic release. Such release not only affects the land, water and air, but can cause injuries and death, property damage and degradation of environment.

Availability of information on the hazards and control measures at the time of such an emergency is essential for minimising the effect of such accidents. There are many information systems in practice world over; however, we will confine ourselves with the information system practiced in India.

The Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 details the transportation of hazardous chemicals under the rule no 129 onwards up to rule 137 has following headings -

Rule No-129: Transportation of goods of dangerous or hazardous manner to human life.
Rule No-130: Manner of display of class labels.
Rule No-131: Consigner to supply information about dangerous or hazardous goods.
Rule No-132: Owner of the goods carriage to specify classification of dangerous or hazardous goods.
Rule No-133: Drivers to take precautions.
Rule No- 1 3 4 : Emergency information panel (EIP).
Rule No-135: Drivers to be instructed.
Rule No-136: Drivers to report to police station about accident.
Rule No-137: Class labels.
Rule No-137: Class labels have been published in the said rule book for different chemicals.

The classification is given below for different kind of chemicals class numbers:
1) Class-1. Explosive: like nitro benzene or TNT
2) Class-2. Gases, compressed liquefied, dissolve under pressure or deeply refrigerated-liquid chlorine, compressed hydrogen gas
3) Class-3. Flammable - LPG
4) Class-4.
    4.1 Flammable solids - pure sodium
    4.2 Substances liable to spontaneous combustion - CS2
    4.3 Substances, which on contact with water emit flammable gases
5) Class-so     5.1 oxidising substances
    5.2 oxidising peroxide
6) Class-6.
    6.1 poisonous (toxic)
    6.2 infectious substances
7) Class-7. Radioactive substances
8) Class-8. Corrosiveness
9) Class-9. Miscellaneous dangerous substances

These class numbers are to be written inside the diamond shape square of the 'Emergency Information Panel' of the truck/ tanker carrying them. It can be seen from the Rule No 137 of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989/1 that for certain chemicals, there could be two or more class numbers to be written. For example Ethyl Nitrite - Toxic, explosive and reducing compound has to be written in diamond shapes display of the Emergency Information Panel.

The carrier transporting the hazardous chemical must have the 'Emergency Information Panel' on all the three sides of the carrier in approximately in 800 mmX800 mm size showing the correct technical name of the dangerous/hazardous, the name and telephone number of emergency services to be contacted in the event of fire or accident. It also provides the information on the hazards and the precautions to be taken in the case of an emergency as shown in the sketch given below. A ‘diamond shape’ 25X25 cm size symbol is drawn inside the Emergency Information Panel. The background colour of diamond shape, the symbol and the numbers marked inside the diamond shape are shown in annexure-l. Colourful details of diamond shapes for various classes of chemicals.

We shall deal here for those chemicals, which are related to caustic chlorine industry only.

1. Chlorine: White colour, skull and cross bones symbol, Class No-2 'Poison gas' as shown in the attached annexure and in Figure No-1 above is to be incorporated in the Emergency Information Panel - Figure No-2

2. Hydrogen: Red colour panel. Flame symbol. Class No-2, flammable gas to be written

3. Caustic soda: Upper half white in colour and lower half black with white border, liquid spilling from two glass vessels and attacking a hand and a metal, Class No-8.

4. Hydrochloric acid: Upper half white in colour and lower half black with white border, liquid spilling from two glass vessels and attacking a hand and a metal, Class No-8.

5. Sodium Hypo Chloride: Upper half white in colour and lower half black with white border, liquid spilling from two glass vessels and attacking a hand and a metal, Class No-8.

The transporting of item no 2 to 5 listed above; do not pose much anxiety during transport if an accident takes place involving them. These chemicals need to be diluted profusely and to be neutralised with suitable chemical. Alkali like sodium carbonate for HCL acid spillage and dilute HCL for caustic soda are used for its spillage. The most important precaution to be taken is that no one should come in contact with these chemical spills as they are expected to cause burn of the skin. In case of HCL one should avoid its fumes, which are likely to affect breathing. However, for sodium hypo chloride, which is alkaline in nature, one should not use the acid for neutralisation otherwise it would decompose and create chlorine gas hazard. It should only be diluted to avoid its affect.

The other precaution for transportation of these liquid chemicals is that over filling of tankers must be avoided. Overfilling of caustic tanker is a very common practice adopted by majority of transporters to save cost of transportation.

Liquid Chlorine
The most important chemical needing maximum attention during transportation is the liquid chlorine. We will examine the quantity of chlorine containers being transported across the country and the necessity of taking care based on the study of accidents and their causes.

The present chlorine production in India is 21 lakh tonnes per year. The Alkali Manufacturing Association estimates that nearly 51 per cent of the chlorine produced is transported as liquid chlorine to different parts of India by road in 900kgs. capacity Chlorine tonners. The distance travelled by a vehicle carrying tonner can be as long as 1,200 km. This shows that nearly 11.9 lakh tonners are transported by road annually and the average distance by a vehicle is 300 km.

In many states in our country vehicles carrying chlorine tonner (gross weight 1,500 kg) are loaded in multi layers (two or three layers of tonners). When on a static ground the above rule says that only one layer of filled container should be stacked, how safe it is to load a moving vehicle with two or three layers with bad roads, unskilled derivers and no disaster management mechanism in place.

Moreover, the weight carrying capacity is always exceeded in almost all multilayer loaded vehicles as observed. We will further examine the different aspects and other requirements for the road transportation of chlorine ton containers.

1. The valve cap and valve bonnet must be in position all the time during transportation. The valve cap controls any miner leak of the valve and protects valve threads from external corrosion. The valve bonnet protects the valves from getting damaged due to any impact releasing the chlorine to the atmosphere, creating a catastrophic situation. The study of road accidents where the liquid chlorine had leaked, the valve has been found the main culprit for injury and death.

2. Only single row of container should be loaded in the trucks.

3. The truck falka should open at least on one side to approach the valves of the container in case of emergency leakage. The tonners in the truck should be loaded in such a manner that all the valves are on the same side where truck falka opens. The truck must be open from the top so that overhead unloading devise can remove any container of the truck without difficulty.

4. The truck carrying chlorine containers should have the 'Emergency Information Panel' lies mentioned in Figure No-2.

5. It becomes imperative that the truck drivers should be properly trained to handle the miner leak from the valves or the gland nut. He should be advised to take his truck to an isolated place away from the crowded when chlorine leak is observed. The driver should inform the supplier of the goods and police to get outside help.

6. The TREMCARD and MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) should be available with him in English/Hindi and local language.

7. It is also very important that no other material should be loaded in the trucks carrying the chlorine ton containers.

Listed below are the some chlorine transportation road accidents
• 100 affected due to chlorine gas leak in Rajkot -September 6, 2010. Nearly one hundred people were hospitalised following a chlorine gas leakage on Rajkot-Morbi highway, fire brigade sources said. The incident took place when a truck carrying nearly 20 chlorine cylinder overturned and the truck came down from the road after driver lost control over the wheel and gas started leaking from one of the cylinders. Nearly 100 people including passersby and 55 passengers travelling in a state transport bus were affected due to the gas leak. Affected persons were rushed to private and civil hospital in Morbi.
• July 1, 1980 Konnerikuppamh: A truck carrying six chlorine tonners, carboys of glacial acetic acid and 15 persons capsized due to bursting of tyres. 14 killed and 3 injured. 1994 India, Apr Thane district: 120 persons injured. 1997 Pakistan, Lahore: Chlorine gas transportation accident: 32 died, 900 injured, 1000 evacuated. Accidents during transportation are a common feature from the available published reports. In our country all the road accident reports do not come out in open due to various reasons. Let us not be blinded by the transportation cost, saving on training expenses involved on educating drivers transporting trucks.

It is never too late to realise the importance of safe transportation of chlorine in ton containers in India road. Let us wake up before a catastrophe happens.