Disaster averted after toxic acid boxes offloaded from plane

A possible air disaster was averted as 98 boxes containing hydrochloric acid, declared globally as `dangerous good`, were off-loaded from a passenger plane here before take-off.

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2011, 18:00 PM IST

Kochi: A possible air disaster was averted
as 98 boxes containing hydrochloric acid, declared globally as
`dangerous good`, were off-loaded from a passenger plane here
before take-off after one of them fell on the tarmac while
being loaded, generating strong fume, officials said on Thursday.

A consignment of 98 boxes were being loaded on to a
Doha-bound Qatar Airways flight yesterday as the exporter had
wrongly declared it as `not dangerous` and claiming that it
contained medical equipment, Airport Director A K C Nair said.
After one of the boxes fell down emitting strong acidic
fumes, the entire consignment was off-loaded from the aircraft
once the security personnel were alerted.

The flight later took off as scheduled with 156
passengers and nine crew members on board.

Airport officials said a case has been filed against the
Thrissur-based Infra Scientific Agency and the IATA-registered
agent through whom the consignment was being sent.

Airport and police authorities have begun investigation
into how the consignment was permitted into the aircraft.

The airport authorities have also decided not to accept
any consignments from the exporter and the agent following the
incident.
Under the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
rules, hydrochloric acid, which is toxic and a highly
corrosive substance, is prohibited from being transported by
air. It is declared as `Category Eight Dangerous Good` as it
has severe corrosive effect on living tissue, other cargo and
the aircraft itself.

Meanwhile in New Delhi, an official of the Bureau of
Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) said investigations into the
incident were on.

The toxic chemical can in no case be transported by a
passenger plane, the official, who requested anonymity, said,
indicating that the license of the cargo agent could be
cancelled.

An official of a leading air cargo agency said, "By law,
we cannot carry certain goods and substances...Some seemingly
innocent substances, which are safe on the ground, may become
dangerous when subjected to the fluctuations of temperature
and pressure during the flight...Hydrochloric acid is not to
be transported by air."

PTI