Fear in Mestre, strong smell of gas in the air: this is what happened

VENICE – The water bomb, at a certain point, became a concern in the background. In fact, when that strong smell of gas began to spread throughout…

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VENICE – The water bomb, at a certain point, became a concern in the background. In fact, when that strong smell of gas began to spread throughout the city, the fire department’s 115 went from boiling to incandescent. Dozens and dozens of reports from all over the city: Corso del Popolo, Chirignago, Marghera, Carpenedo. «At first – explains the fire brigade commander, Mauro Luongo – we thought of a series of gas leaks linked to the flooding. Then, when we understood that the problem was more linked to petrochemicals.” To be precise, at the Eni refinery in Via dei Petroli: the downpour, in fact, caused the tanks of water collected within the company’s sewage system to overflow. The waters contained hydrocarbons which, floating on the surface, evaporated into the air. The water that came out of the tanks, several tens of cubic metres, flooded the refinery square. «Hydrocarbons – continues Longo – are very odorous, and in those quantities the stench quickly spread throughout the city also because there was a large percentage of sulphur. Our NBCR team intervened on site and we started pumping out the water with emergency tanks also with the help of the consortium plant.”

ISOLATED

The firefighters have, however, ruled out external spills of Eni’s dirty water in the lagoon or elsewhere. «It is important to underline that it is an isolated system, waterproofed compared to the rest, like a tank. There will then be feedback from Arpav but the event would have remained contained within the structure.” Prefect Darco Pellos was also informed of the episode yesterday, and he met yesterday with the president of the Region Luca Zaia and councilor Bottacin, updating them on the incident. The local state delegate, on Thursday afternoon, set up a control room inside the fire station with all the police forces. From here, a video conference was set up with all the mayors of the province to coordinate the operations and management of the emergency. «A system that worked very well – comments Pellos – and we managed to give an effective operational response which certainly limited the damage, given the particularity and intensity of this atmospheric event».

FINDINGS AND QUESTIONS

Arpav carried out samples throughout the area to understand whether there may have been some form of pollution. From the first analyzes on the air, there would not be any harmful fumes but obviously we will have to wait for the results of the tests on other samples, also because the event has created great alarm among the population. The city councilor and former councilor Gianfranco Bettin also presented a question on the episode. «We asked the mayor to engage the ARPAV to communicate precise information on what happened, on the composition of the fumes and their impact on the environment and health and on the lack of timely information on the phenomenon which contributed to increasing the population’s fears. We also ask you to verify how that water will be disposed of. We also ask whether it is not the case that the entire monitoring, alert and information system on possible or ongoing risks should not be subjected to an in-depth check and an adaptation that makes it more efficient and reliable”.

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