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23 freon gas leaks on MRT trains in past 10 years

SINGAPORE — Twenty-three cases of freon gas leaks took place on trains across the rail network over the past decade, but the ensuing odourless white smoke posed no health risk to the public.

23 freon gas leaks on MRT trains in past 10 years

A freon gas leak forced commuters to evacuate a train at Tanjong Pagar MRT Station on Aug 15, 2016. Photo: Zoe Raymond

SINGAPORE — Twenty-three cases of freon gas leaks took place on trains across the rail network over the past decade, but the ensuing odourless white smoke posed no health risk to the public.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed this in a written response to a question in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 3).

Workers' Party Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera had asked about the number of freon gas leaks that have occurred on Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems over the past decade, and the risk they posed to commuters. 

A colourless gas, freon can interact with moisture in the air to form an odourless white smoke. 

"The smoke poses no health risk to the public," Mr Khaw said in his written reply. "As soon as a leak is reported, affected commuters are de-trained at the next station and the train (is) withdrawn for repair." 

In August last year, a freon gas leak caused by oil leakage from a train's compressor filled Tanjong Pagar MRT Station in an odourless smoke, as hordes of commuters darted out of the train. 

Raffles Place MRT Station witnessed a similar scene in May this year, after a freon gas leak from a train's air-conditioning compressor left the platform enveloped in smoke.

Mr Khaw gave no further details on where the other freon leaks occured, or whether a particular MRT line was more affected by the leaks than others. TODAY understands that all 23 cases of freon gas leaks took place on the MRT. 

Freon is toxic in large quantities. In 2008, a freon gas leak on a Russian nuclear submarine due to its faulty fire-extinguishing system killed 20.

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