Sitakunda oxygen plant blast might have originated at air separation unit: investigators

Investigators visit the site a day after the explosion killed six people and injured 24 others

Published : 5 March 2023, 03:32 PM
Updated : 5 March 2023, 03:32 PM

Investigators believe the deadly blast at Sheema Group’s oxygen plant at Sitakunda in Chattogram might have originated in its air separation unit. 

Members of the committee formed by the district administration visited the site and collected evidence on Sunday, a day after the explosion killed six people and injured 24 others. 

“Initially we suspect the blast originated in the air separation column of the oxygen plant,” said Additional District Magistrate Rakib Hossain, who is heading the investigation. 

The committee convened for its first meeting on Sunday and reviewed the incident, he said. “We need to carry out more investigation to find out what actually had happened.” 

They found cylinders for carbon dioxide and nitrogen besides unauthorised oxygen cylinders at the plant, Rakib said. 

“Several types of safety measures are required in an industrial mechanical setup. We’re investigating if there was any negligence by the technical staff or the owners.” 

Dr Suman Barua, chairman of applied chemistry department at Chattogram University who was included in the investigation committee, said it appeared to them the blast was caused by pressure fluctuation in the air separation plant. 

“Maybe the pressure was not released properly.” 

Dr Suman thinks negligence by the people running the factory led to the explosion. 

The engineer at the factory could not provide proper answers to questions from the committee because he did not have a clear idea about the technical matters related to the plant, according to Dr Suman. 

The committee would ask the owners for the information, he said. 

The factory’s Managing Director Mamun Uddin claimed they followed all the rules and did not neglect duty.