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KULAIJAYA: A loud explosion, followed by fire that was almost 10 metres high, revealed the actual nature of business conducted at a premises along Jalan Besi 1, Desa Perindustrian Kulai Park here.
The industrial chemical company which went into operation in 1994, had on its' premises licence listed it as "storage".
But it was used as a laboratory, and had combustible chemicals to produce organic and inorganic chemicals.
When the fire broke out at 8am, the Kulaijaya Fire and Rescue Department firefighters and engines were rushed to the scene, but they had to call in the Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) team, when they realised that there were combustible materials in the premises.
Kulaijaya Hazmat commander in chief Ithnin Osman, said it took 10 personnel over an hour to neutralise the chemicals and to contain the premises.
Initial investigations revealed that there were 33 bottles of Nitrite Acid which were kept on a wooden pallet and one of the 2.5 litter bottle exploded suddenly, which followed by the fire.
There were 72 litters of fuming Nitric Acid that it was very corrosive, thus extra care was to be taken.
Ithnin said they neutralised the acid using soda ash.
He added the impact of the explosion threw the window panels more than 30 meters away, and melted the bottles.
"We contacted the Johor Environment Department, Kulaijaya Municipal Council and also the police for further action when we realised that the premises was misused as laboratory.
He also said the owner of the chemical company who is believed to be a Taiwanese, could not communicate in English nor Bahasa Malaysia, thus they could not record his statement.
There were also several foreign-workers in the premises, who escaped injuries but were also unable to speak in both languages.