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Regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

Assam: Fire in gas well periphery doused

US, Canada experts to join to control remaining blaze

Our Bureau And Agencies Dibrugarh Published 11.06.20, 03:10 PM
National Disaster Response Team (NDRF) personnel carry out search and rescue operations after two firemen of Oil India Limited went missing since an oil well at the company’s Baghjan oilfield exploded, in Assam’s Tinsukia district, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. The firemen were found dead by the team.

National Disaster Response Team (NDRF) personnel carry out search and rescue operations after two firemen of Oil India Limited went missing since an oil well at the company’s Baghjan oilfield exploded, in Assam’s Tinsukia district, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. The firemen were found dead by the team. PTI

The fire in the periphery of Oil India's gas well in Assam's Tinsukia district has been doused after sustained efforts of fire fighters and at the moment only flowing gas is burning at the mouth of the well, a senior official of the PSU said on Thursday.

Though no peripheral burning is taking place at the moment at the well's site at Baghjan, the company has declared an area up to 1.5 km radius as "red zone" to avoid any untoward incident and harm to the general public.

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"Now only the flowing gas is burning at the mouth of the well. We have declared an area with 1.5 km of radius as a red zone so that no outside person comes near the site. It is being done as a safety measure," Oil India Ltd (OIL) senior manager (Public Affairs) Jayant Bormudoi told PTI.

Experts from US, Canada called in

The official said three more foreign experts from the US and Canada will reach Assam in two days to control the blaze caused by a major blowout at the gas well on Tuesday.

Currently, three experts from Singaporean firm Alert Disaster Control are working at the site since Monday to stop the gas leak.

"We have contacted three more experts and they will be joining us the day after tomorrow. Two of them are from the USA and one is from Canada," Bormudoi said.

The visa and all other regulatory approvals are completed and they will be flying very soon from their respective places, he added.

Gas flowing uncontrollably; earthquake due to overground sources

Bormudoi informed that the gas is flowing uncontrollably at a pressure of 4,500 psi (pounds per square inch) and it is "very very high" to control the leakage.

"Besides, no one is able to approach the well beyond 50 metres because of excessive heat. Our fire tenders are now spraying water and creating a water umbrella in the periphery. By cooling down the periphery, the experts are trying to approach slowly," he explained.

When asked about repeated tremors felt by people in the area Wednesday night, the OIL official said it was not from underground sources but produced overground.

"When the massive fire burnt a huge amount of oxygen in the periphery, an air vacuum was created. This resulted in sudden air movement and created minor local tremors," Bormudoi said.

2 firefighters dead

The well, which has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 16 days, caught fire on Tuesday afternoon, killing OIL's two fire fighters at the site.

The bodies of Oil India firefighters Durlov Gogoi, 35, and Tikheswar Gohain, 55, were brought out on Wednesday by disaster response force personnel from a pond which they had probably jumped into to escape the blaze.

Durlov used to play for the Oil India football team, a big name in state football.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal Wednesday briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation and the PM assured him of all possible assistance to the victims and to resolve the situation.

The blaze at the well is so massive that it can be seen from a distance of more than 30 kms with thick black smoke rising several metres high, endangering the local biodiversity in the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park following the blowout on May 27.

Locals irate, 7,000 evacuated

Amid the palpable anger among residents of the neighbourhood against Oil India for not being able to cap the May 27 well blowout, which gave way to a fire on the 14th day, there was a sense of loss at the deaths of the two employees of the company.

Baghjan resident Hemanta Moran said: “They were also our own. We have lost a lot but we have not lost our dear ones. Condolences to the families of the deceased.”

The company and Tinsukia District Administration said they have moved around 7,000 people from nearby areas of the gas well site at Baghjan to 12 relief camps.

Four persons, two from Oil India, one from ONGC and one employed by a contractor, sustained minor injuries and have been given medical help, an Oil India statement said. Fire tenders are spraying water to control the fire from spreading in the surrounding areas. Arrangement of more water for controlling the blaze is in progress, the statement said.

2 officials suspended

By Wednesday evening, action was initiated against two officials. “They have been suspended and an inquiry is on. That is why we are not officially releasing their names,” a senior Oil India official said.

A PIL was filed at the Gauhati High Court on Wednesday against OIL, John Energy, the Centre and the state for the PSU major's Baghjan gas well blowout and successive fire, which have damaged life and properties in the area.

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