Chlorine gas leak at GWI facility contained – Better Hope residents affected
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A team from the Guyana Fire Service at the GWI water treatment facility yesterday
A team from the Guyana Fire Service at the GWI water treatment facility yesterday

THE Guyana Water Inc (GWI) has indicated that the chlorine gas leak which occurred early yesterday morning at GWI’s Water Treatment Facility at Better Hope, East Coast Demerara has been contained.

A Hazmat Team located the leaking cylinder and took necessary action to contain the leak including burying the cylinder, GWI said in an updated statement on the situation yesterday afternoon.

GWI also advised nearby residents “to return to their homes as the situation has returned to normal and there is no danger”.

The gas leak had sickened and displaced scores of residents at North Better Hope Squatting Area, earlier in the day.
Residents of Better Hope and neighbouring communities were advised throughout the day that every possible action was being taken to contain the leak.

GWI’s Public Relations Officer, Timothy Austin, said the company has launched an immediate probe into the cause of the leak. The probe will be spearheaded by Occupational Health and Safety Officer, Christopher Cathro.
He added that the GWI expressed gratitude to members of the GFS and Hazmat team for their timely assistance and the company apologises to the residents of Better Hope and environs and assured them that all action will be taken to avoid a recurrence.
Meanwhile, Bamran Pooran told the Chronicle that it was about 5am as he was brushing his teeth when he heard a loud explosion and realised that something was amiss next door at the GWI facility.
He lives directly behind the water treatment facility and, shortly after the explosion, he learnt that it was a chlorine gas leak.
He said he began experiencing breathing problems because of his asthmatic condition and started to vomit.
Pooran was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) by his relatives and was treated and sent away.
He along with a group of residents who had no place else to go yesterday had camped out by the seawall accompanied by their children, some of whom were vomiting and had headaches.
Shelly Rachel Boodwah, who also sought medical attention, said she woke up and experienced a burning sensation and got an unbearable headache; the headache was accompanied by vomiting.
She stated that she was also coughing non-stop and after visiting the hospital, she felt somewhat better, but having returned to the area she began having the same symptoms.
Many residents including Vanie Singh, who was accompanied by her children, said they are all not feeling well and even the children are vomiting, but they have locked up their houses and are temporarily by the seawall, which is closest to their homes. This was around noon yesterday.
GFS Divisional Commander, Compton Sparman, who was supervising a team, said they have been doing excavation and isolation and noted that three persons, including a GWI employee, had to be rushed to the hospital as a result of the chlorine leak.
GWI Director of Operations, Joseph Codette, was at the Better Hope water treatment facility yesterday to oversee the operations to contain the leak and ensure a return to normalcy.

(Michel Outridge)


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