Ammonia leak averted at Coromandel plant in Southern India

India narrowly avoided a major environmental catastrophe when an ammonia leak occurred in the subsea pipeline of Coromandel International Ltd’s fertilizer manufacturing plant near Ennore in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The incident, which took place on 26 December, resulted in over a dozen people being hospitalized and subsequent public outcry demanding the closure of the plant. Despite the agitation, the situation was promptly managed, preventing further disaster.

Amir Alvi, President and Head of Manufacturing (Fertilizer) & Supply Chain at Coromandel International Limited, detailed the incident and the immediate response. Noticing an abnormality in the ammonia unloading pipeline on 26 December, the company’s Standard Operating Procedure was swiftly enacted. This quick action isolated the ammonia system and restored normalcy in a short period. Affected local community members received immediate medical attention, ensuring their safety.

A high-powered technical team, appointed by the Tamil Nadu State Government, thoroughly inspected the ammonia handling system the following day. This team, comprising experts and officials from the Pollution Control Board, IIT academia, and environmental agencies, endorsed the emergency response executed by Coromandel. They have permitted the plant to resume operations after conducting necessary safety inspections and confirming the integrity of the ammonia pipeline and systems.

Coromandel International Limited stressed that the irregularities detected were well below hazardous levels, thanks to the automated trip interlocks and control systems. The company had previously conducted a safety audit and obtained external certification for the ammonia pipeline’s operating condition, further demonstrating their commitment to safety and environmental stewardship.

Coromandel International Limited is recognized as India’s second-largest manufacturer and marketer of phosphatic fertilizer, with a diverse portfolio including fertilizer, crop protection, bioproducts, specialty nutrients, and organic fertilizers.

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