Coromandel International Ltd has said that the ammonia gas leak at its Ennore fertilizer factory in Chennai was an accident that happened due to factors beyond its control. It pointed out that the agriculture sector will be impacted severely if fertilizer operations are not restored at the earliest.

Also read: Coromandel Intl Q3 PAT falls to ₹242 cr

The plant has been shut down since December 26, 2023, following leakage of ammonia gas that left nearly 50 hospitalisted. All those hospitalised have fully recovered and there has been no casualty. However, the Member of Parliament from North Chennai, where the plant is located, Kalanidhi Veerasamy, has called for the permanent closure of the plant.

The company said it took action within minutes of the accident, which prevented major mishaps, and reiterated how its facility in Ennore, which has been operational since 1996, has the best safety measures and protocols, according to a copy of the affidavit filed by the company before the Green Tribunal.

It also said that third-party audit reports found no ammonia emission in its Ennore plant area in December 2023. The affidavit was in response to a case involving a suo moto case initiated by the Chennai Bench of the National Green Tribunal in December 2023 in the wake of an ammonia gas leak from Coromandel’s fertilizer factory at Ennore. The leak was reported to have caused some health issues for people in the area. At least about 50 people had to be hospitalised, but they all recovered.

On February 4, the Tamil Nadu government directed the TNPCB to implement the recommendations of the technical committee report on the ammonia gas leak in Ennore.

Highlighting various safety protocols, the company said in its affidavit that it built a steel corridor structure as per the recommendation of an ex-professor of IIT Madras, to prevent any pipeline damage due to the movement of heavy granite boulders on the shore.

Unique product

It explained that ammonium phosphate potash sulphate manufactured at its Ennore plant caters to the demand of the farming community across States. The plant was established in 1996 and is the major manufacturer of a unique product — Paramfos — produced only at the Ennore unit and is widely used by farmers in many States. It is supplied across the nation, and is mainly used for paddy, ragi, sugarcane, ground nut, and maize.

It concerns the authorities that if the plant operations are not resumed at the earliest the fertilizer supply will be affected, which would adversely impact the agricultural produce and the well-being of the farmers, it said.

Also read: NGT takes suo motu cognisance, seeks a report from TNPCB on Ennore gas leak

Last week, the State Minister for Environment and Climate Change Siva V Meyyanathan said the Tamil Nadu government will decide the next course of action after the implementation of all safety measures recommended by the technical committee.

Coromandel had also agreed to pay ₹5.92 crore as compensation for the damage caused to the environment.