Pic courtesy: NDTV
Having worked in a process plant, I was deeply disturbed when I heard the news about the fire in the ONGC rig at Bombay Offshore. It hurts to see such a massive installation collapse. As any one who has worked in a factory knows, the factory has a life of its own. Each pump and compressor becomes well known to the operators and technicians, they almost become human in nature. You can here words like "What is the problem with this fellow? Normally he is quite, but today he seems to be disturbed" about a pump. A chemical factory is hazardous in nature, where reactors operate at temparatures of 200 deg c and compressors running at 10000 rpm are common. A technician / operator knows that he controls such stong beasts only by being meticulous in his work, and is always respectful towards them.
A chemical factory is a place where teamwork is paramount. When you are entering a vessel wearing a face mask and a lifeline, your entire trust is on your partner standing guard outside. The camaraderie developed over work is to be seen to be believed. A failure is taken as a collective failure and every one feels bad about it. Fatal accidents are rare, but are always to be expected. There is always a thrill about the work, and the knowledge that we are controlling something that is far more powerful than us.
We come to respect the machines, the facilities. Our lives are entwined with those machines. That is why it hurts to see something collapse. An Oil Rig is far more complicated than the fertiliser factory where I worked. On checking the list of survivors, I found men from my previous company and my current clients on the rig. I am glad that the damage to human lives was small. 10 people have died, Mechanical, Electrical and Instrumentation Engineers - may their souls rest in peace.