On Monday, July 6, a high-power committee appointed by the Andhra Pradesh Government submitted its final report after probing into the Styrene monomer gas leakage at LG Polymers factory in Visakhapatnam’s RR Venkatapuram on May 7 revealing multiple lapses of the management in operating the factory that caused the industrial disaster in which 15 people died and hundreds were hospitalised. The experts committee recommended that the top officials of the factory must be booked for negligence and mismanagement of the situation.
Meanwhile, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) state leaders are demanding the government to immediately compensate the families of three victims who died of the gas leakage few days after the incident.
The high-power committee after probing for nearly two months has stated that the root causes of the Styrene gas leakage are “poor design of the tank; inadequate refrigeration and faulty cooling system; absence of circulation and mixing systems; inadequate measures and parameters; poor safety protocol; poor safety awareness; inadequate risk assessment response; poor process safety management system; slackness of management; insufficient knowledge of the chemical properties of styrene, especially during storage conditions; total breakdown of the emergency response of the procedures; and safety protocol not being followed by the authorities during the lockdown period.”
Besides pointing out lapses, the committee has recommended that the factory should be turned into a non polluting unit or to be shifted out.
Also read: Lapses by LG Polymers Management Caused Styrene Gas Leakage, Says NGT Committee
After submitting the final report to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, committee chairman Neerab Kumar said, “Even after the accident happened, LG Polymers acted in a negligent manner. Siren was not pressed after the accident even though there were alarms installed at 36 places on the plant premises. Not keeping the sirens active on the plant premises is the biggest laxity on the part of LG Polymers. Also, the chemicals used to control Styrene were not adequately available in the plant. Had it been the case, there were chances of styrene being quickly neutralised. Because of this, these chemicals were to be requisitioned all the way from Gujarat. But by then, the temperatures in the tanks soared high.”
These findings provide enough evidence against the top officials of LG Polymers to be booked under criminal charges, said Ch Narasinga Rao, CITU state president. “The high-power committee report has reiterated the findings of previous reports by other committees on this incident. While a case has been filed but none of the management has been arrested so far. Immediate action needs to be taken against the management for their lapses and the factory must be shut down as suggested by the committee,” Narasinga Rao told NewsClick.
In the last week of May, a joint monitoring committee appointed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) that probed the incident suggested remedial measures such as “the industry shall prepare a comprehensive health monitoring programme along with reputed hospitals for the suspected population at least for five years. Based on the data and health results of the study, the monitoring may be continued.”
“The state government has compensated 12 families of victims who died of gas leakage but no compensation has been provided for three others who died days after the incident. It must be remembered that even in the gas leakage at Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal in 1984, the families of victims who died at the time of gas leakage were only compensated and the families of thousands of victims who died eventually were neglected. This should not repeat this time,” said Rao.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore to each of the families of victims who died in the incident.