June 28, 2022, 2:29 pm


Staff Correspondent

Published:
2022-06-14 12:14:12 BdST

Environmental disaster feared following Sitakunda depot fire


The surrounding areas of BM Container Depot in Sitakunda might face severe environmental disaster due to chemical spread from the spot despite the deadly fire being put out.

Firefighters and the Bangladesh army brought the fire under control after 65 hours of frantic effort and it took more than 95 hours to douse the devastating fire completely.

Though the blaze has been doused, the exhaust of black fumes did not stop from the fire-ravaged container depot.

This black smoke spread in the surrounding areas of the depot.

As the fire shattered about 5-kilometer-long areas, maximum residents of the region left their houses fearing environmental and physical effects.

However, people who have been living in the villages near the depot despite the apprehension of loss, are suffering from asphyxia, eye pain and various skin diseases as toxic chemicals mixed up with the air and seawater of the region.  

According to the fire service, BM Container Depot stored toxic chemical Hydrogen Peroxide in some containers which can create a blast after heating. 

Locals said Hydrogen Peroxide mixed water has already reached the Bay of Bengal through canals. People of Sitakunda smell bad odor in the air and seawater. Many of them are embracing new physical symptoms including vomiting after inhaling the air.

Physicians and environmentalists said public health and the environment of Sitakunda might fall under threat. This threat could be for a short time or a long time. In this situation, heavy rainfall could reduce the risk of environmental disasters.

However, chemical mixed water can create pollution in the canals and the sea. After all, container depot fire will contribute adverse effects on public health and the environment.

They also suggested that the Department of Environment (DoE) can measure the air to detect the PPM (parts per million) of pollutants in the air in Sitakunda and take necessary action on it. 

Ramjan Hossain, a resident of Mollapara, adjacent to the container depot, said he has sent his full family to his relative's house as all of them were feeling sick due to burning smoke and the air.

Another resident of the same area Hafiz Mohammad said the water which was sprinkled by the firefighters had mixed with the adjacent canal water with the toxic chemical. Later, the army prevented the water from spreading by closing the drains.

Physician Abdullah said there was a chemical burn in the BM Container Depot. Chemical mixed air could damage the eye, skin, liver, and kidneys of the human body. But this damage caused by the chemical might happen in the long run.

To save from these physical problems, he suggested the locals go to the doctor in a hurry whenever they feel such symptoms or problems.    

Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) chairman Dr. Aftab Ali Sheikh said chemical pollution is not stopped at one place and it can also reach Dhaka. 

Mufidul Alam, director of DoE, Chattogram region, said, chemical mixed air and water can also spoil the quality of the earth of Sitakunda.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) general secretary Sharif Jamil said, “A separate zone should be kept for container depot and separate preparation must for this. All kinds of disaster management preparations should also be kept for storing chemicals.” 

The deadly fire at BM Container Depot in Sitakunda was fully doused Wednesday morning, which has so far claimed 49 lives.

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