Transporting toxic gas in glass containers aboard a train sounds like something from a hurriedly written action movie, but no, it’s real life. And it’s particularly real life for Chelyabinsk, Russia, which now have a cloud of bromine floating above it.
After the cargo train spilled yesterday in the Ural mountains city of over a million — allegedly due to safety negligence — only around 38 litres of the poison bromine leaked. But that was enough to create a gas cloud that’s covered a large chunk of the Chelyabinsk, hospitalising over 200 residents, the BBC reports.
Bromine is serious stuff. Although complaints so far have only been of “headaches, difficulty breathing and irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes”, heavy exposure can cause permanent damage to the brain and other internal organs. But it’s OK, says local government minister Alexander Galichin:
To calm down the population, I wanted to say that bromine is used for medical purposes to sedate people — albeit not in such quantities, of course.”