Grass is green; water is blue; Goody Feed is an idiotic company; SMRT is in the news.
But this time round, it’s not because of flooded tunnels. It’s not even because of the usual suspect Mr Train Delay, because he had an intense stomachache that day. Rather, it’s something we’ve yet to see that often:
A nasty freon gas leak.
I know you’re shocked. So am I. Here are eight facts on why a MRT train has decided to fart during peak hours.
On Thursday morning (7 June) at around 9:45 a.m., SMRT staff detected white smoke erupting from beneath the train while it was still docked at Tanjong Pagar MRT station.
This revelation caused the staff to evacuate the passengers, with commuters unceremoniously ejected from the train without any explanation.
What was the white smoke all about?
According to Straits Times, SMRT’s preliminary investigations revealed that the leak was actually due to a leaking air-conditioning compressor that supposedly released freon gas.
And in case you have no idea what I’m rambling on about, freon gas is actually a common refrigerant utilised in air-conditioners. And it’s generally non-toxic.
Yes, it’s the gas that air-con servicing technician often spoke about. The one whereby he’ll say, “Oh, need to top up your air-con gas. Got extra charge unless you sign contract.”
However, when mixed with moisture in the air, it becomes an odourless white smoke that you see in every single Michael Bay movie.
But… all the hoo-hah?
If the gas wasn’t toxic, why all the fuss?
Well, as it turns out, extended exposure to the gas (especially when an individual inhales it deeply), could actually cut off oxygen to the cells and lungs.
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Yeah, that sounds scary.
But of course, you need to inhale it deeply. Which I think no one in their right mind would do it.
Later on, a SMRT spokesperson clarified the move.
“As a safety precaution, all passengers on board the affected train were asked to alight and board the next train,” said Ms Margaret Teo, vice-president of corporate communications.
She added that the affected train was subsequently retracted from service for further checks.
First Hand Account
The Straits Times spoke to a person who was there, account manager Roland Yeo, and the response was nothing short of informative.
According to the 41-year-old, the platform was “quite smoky”, and the smoke seemed to stem from the rear of the train he was on.
However, having been in the middle of the train, the smell had not been obvious. In fact, he only noticed the smoke after the train had pulled up at the MRT station and everyone was being rushed off the train.
“After the train stopped, the staff told us to alight quickly without really explaining what had happened,” he said.
“There were also no announcements made, but people started to notice the smoke, so everyone cooperated with the staff.”
Chill as a refrigerator
Contrary to what onlookers might think, Tanjong Pagar MRT station didn’t quite get as rushed and packed as the infamous Japan Lunch Time Rush. Which is, lest you’re unaware, pretty much the humanized version of Sardines in a Can.
Adding that the situation at the station was “calm and orderly”, Yeo said that commuters were also hardly affected as they could get on the next train, that came just two minutes later.
Well, that sounds way more efficient than all the “party games” commuters and staff used to play in events of train delay.
Not the first time
It’s not the first time something like this happened. In March this year, a train was actually withdrawn from service after a similar gas leak at Jurong East station. And in May last year (2017), smoke enveloped the Raffles Place station platform.
But it’s surprising how reactions have changed, as a prior incident in August 2016 (in which the same thing happened at Tanjong Pagar MRT station) actually ignited fears of a fire.
After the freon gas leak incident in 2016, SMRT stated that the train’s air-conditioning compressor had overheated after an oil leak, resulting in a projection of freon gas into the platform area.
So if there’s anything, overheating might just be the main culprit this time round again. But we will have to wait till further notice for the real cause of it all.
On another note, we haven’t heard of any significant train delays since 9 April. That’s almost two months, an achievement that should not be glossed over.
Perhaps, just perhaps, this is it?
The golden comeback of SMRT.
I’m feeling pretty darn optimistic today, huh?
So, what’s Freon gas?
Air-conditions would usually use Freon gas, and that includes the air-conditioner in cars or shopping malls. The name “Freon” is actually a trademark name, sort of like how we always call instant noodles as “Maggi Mee” or plastic containers as “Tupperwave”.
It is four times heavier than air, so it’ll sink to the ground initially.
And of course, air-conditioners are the only appliances that use Freon gas – freezers would also need it as well, so it’s practically everywhere around you.
It’s just always well-contained.
Until yesterday, that is.
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