Hatakani – Tragedy struck the the Sukuuvestaa station in orbit around Hatakani VII-18 today when a storage tank of industrial solvent ruptured in the middle of a shift change, killing 57 people and injuring at least 1200 people. Industrial facilities on the station have been shut down temporarily while investigators assess the damage and hazardous waste teams attempt to deal with the toxic spill, and a number of residential areas near the solvent leak have been evacuated as a precaution.
The leak was first detected shortly after noon while the second shift was arriving on the job, but according to workers in the facility, it was dismissed as a buggy monitor for nearly half an hour. “The last three days, we've been having air quality warnings every thirty minutes. It's been nuts. When it started, we all just figured it was another false alarm,” said Juuri Vodruki, a smelter operator. “Then a couple people passed out, and the whole tank just burst open. Everyone scrambled for the pressure doors, but it was too late for a lot of guys.”
Fleeing workers reported that some victims were simply dissolved completely, and suggested that the number of dead was probably far higher than official reports. “I'm not saying the company is lying, but I saw five guys not more than twenty meters away from me get covered head to toe in that junk, and it was like something out of a horror reel. That was a big tank, and I'm pretty sure there's a lot more people who were much closer to it than I was,” said a worker who asked not to be identified.
Industrial facilities at the station, which perform a variety of tasks for thirteen different SuVee subsidiaries, including Citadel Electronics, Penumbra Aerospace, and Sunny Side Farms, have been shut down while Sukuuvestaa investigators pore over the scene and hazmat teams deal with the mess. “Initial findings are pointing towards an improper mixture within the solvent itself,” said Terese Oriita, the SuVee spokeswoman at the station. “This weakened the inner seal of the containment vessel and caused the leak. We have already begun the process of tracing back the supplier of the solvent.”
According to several of the local dockworkers, however, that process may not be as straightforward as SuVee may hope. Traffic is extremely heavy in the Hatakani system, which is a major stop along trade routes from the Caldari State's core systems to those of the Federation, and the day of the accident was an unusually busy one even so. “We had almost two hundred different freighters, industrials, and transports docking here during the hour they're looking at,” said assistant dockmaster Tcheky Sumisen. “It's going to be a complete mess tracing that back.”
“A problem like this should never have happened,” said Ichiro Kemisaisen, professor of chemical engineering at the School of Applied Knowledge. “Chemical transport systems are carefully keyed to prevent exactly this problem, and they are double-checked both at loading and unloading. The only way this could have happened is through a failure of those safeties, something that is almost impossible under normal circumstances.” When asked he was suggesting this accident was due to sabotage, he told us that “there's no way to be sure, but that does seem to be the likeliest possibility.”