Responsible for devastating Sitakunda fire
Industry Desk: Al-Razi Chemical Complex Ltd, the factory that manufactured the inflammable chemical hydrogen peroxide which was kept in the BM Container Depot in Sitakunda that witnessed a horrific fire claiming at least 49 lives, is also owned by Smart Group, the same company that owns the depot. The chemicals were kept in the container yard of the depot without maintaining any safety measures for exporting to Cambodia.
Around 850 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide produced by Al-Razi Chemical Complex located in the Thandachhari area of Fatehabad, Hathazari were brought to the depot on 1 and 2 June.
The chemicals were packed in 33 containers and kept in the yard for export which was delayed due to a schedule mismatch with an international shipping company.
4 containers loaded with hazardous chemicals identified at BM Depot.
All the containers were put in the container yard of the depot, not in a separate shed despite carrying highly inflammable chemicals like hydrogen peroxide.
Uttam Chakma, assistant commissioner, BM Container Depot off dock, said, “The company even wanted to take these chemicals back to the factory due to the delay in shipping schedule. But that did not happen.”
The fire service and civil defence have pointed at the hydrogen peroxide in the BM Container Depot for the huge fire. According to them, the fire started from a leak in a container filled with combustible chemicals.
Mohammad Monir Hossain, director (training) of the Fire Service and Civil Defense, said, “Oxygen helps to light fires and hydrogen can cause fire and explosion on its own when it comes in contact with air. There were no safety measures in the BM Container Deport to keep such chemicals.”
“They did not even have any chart listing different containers having different products. The chemicals should have been kept in an isolated place. But the depot authority maintained nothing properly,” he added.
Mahbub-e-Ilahi, an inspector of the Agrabad branch of the fire service, who was present at the scene said, “How can it be possible that the depot authority does not know which chemicals were kept in the container yard. We experienced in many previous accidents that the owners often hide information. For this, we have paid the price by losing nine of our comrades.”
Shamsul Haider Siddique, a spokesman of BM Container Depot, said, “We have two companies. Our products were kept here for export. We are also trying to gather all the information about the accident. But the information could not be known right now as many of our employees at the depot have also been injured.”
Human rights activists blamed the negligence of the depot authority for the devastating fire that killed at least 49 people and injured several hundred.
Aminul Haque, a human rights activist in Chattogram, said, “This is an act of killing by negligence. The depot authority must know about the chemicals kept in their container yard. They failed to report it to the fire service.”
According to The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), Bangladesh exported hydrogen peroxide worth $13.9 million in 2020. The country ranks 17th in the export of the chemical worldwide which is mainly used in the bleaching and disinfection process of the textile, paper and pulp industry.
It is the 89th most exported product in the country which goes to countries including India, Nepal, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh also ranks 65th in terms of importing hydrogen peroxide from other countries. In 2020, the country imported this chemical worth $656,000 mostly from Thailand, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea and India.
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