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Chlorine leak affects over 80 people, some hospitalized

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, July 5
73 people including 11 children and 1 pregnant woman were poisoned by a chlorine leak in the Lilo settlement on the night of July 3. A sudden explosion of chlorine containers located on the premises of the Crystal Company was extinguished by emergency personnel.

A criminal investigation of the case is under the way. Levan Dautashvili, Director of the company, may face from 2 to 5 years in prison for violating community safety standards.

The Crystal Company is a contractor of the United Water Supply Company of Georgia which ensures water provision in the country. Mamuka Katsarava, Head of the Social Service Agency of Tbilisi City Hall, said 30 people remain in the hospital are recovering. However, the condition of Lasha Narimanidze, 18, remains critical. Narimanidze has asthma and the chlorine ingestion caused a heart attack.

The Minister of Labor, Health and Social Protection, Zurab Tchiarebashvili, visited the patients with President Mikheil Saakashvili. The president did not make a public comment, but according to Tchiaberashvili, he wanted to be sure of the safety of the patients. The minister said that all the treatment expenses of the patients will be covered by the state.

Environment Minister Goga Khachidze said that the leak no longer posed a threat to people or the environment.

The concentration of a large amount of chlorine in one place made people living and trading nearby feel sick. A bus full of passengers had stopped at the bus stop when the chlorine was leaked and the smell was felt in a radius of hundreds of meters. They said such dangerous chemicals should not be located near populations.

The damaged chlorine containers were moved to a safer place and the territory where the chlorine leaked was sealed. According to the United Water Supply Company of Georgia, the Crystal Company had to periodically provide 50 tons of liquid chlorine in February-December, 2012 for processing the water. United Water Supply Company of Georgia is going to suspend the contract with the Crystal Company. According to their information the Crystal Company was fully responsible for the safety and quality of the chlorine.