Updated: May 7, 2020 10:16:03 pm
Reminiscent of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, gas from LG Polymers factory on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh leaked in the wee hours of Thursday killing at least eight persons.
The gas leak from the factory located at RRV Puram near Gopalapatnam, about 15 kms from Visakhapatnam, affected at least 2,000 residents in five villages located around the factory. Panic-stricken residents of RRV Puram, Venkatapuram, BC Colony, Padmapuram and Kamparapalem fled the area and many fell unconscious on the roads.
Police and NDRF teams evacuated several factory workers. Hundreds of people in unconscious condition or breathing difficulties were brought to the King George Hospital. Children and elderly were most affected. An official at KGH said that death toll may go up.
The LG Polymers factory was originally established in 1961 as Hindustan Polymers to manufacture polystyrene. It was merged with MCDowell &Co of the UB Group in 1978 and was taken over by South Korea-based LG Chem in 1997 which renamed it as LG Polymers. The factory manufactures general purpose polystyrene and high impact polystyrene, expandable polystyrene, and engineering plastics compounds.
Industries Minister M Goutham Reddy said that the factory was to reopen today after the lockdown. The workers were preparing to restart the work when the gas started leaking in the wee hours. “We have issued guidelines and protocol to all industries for safe reopening of factories. Our initial information is that workers were checking a gas storage tank when it started leaking. Only a thorough investigation will reveal what exactly happened,” Reddy said.
An official of LG Polymers issued a statement that there was 1800 tonnes of styrene in the storage tank. He said that due to stagnation and changes in temperature it could have resulted in auto polymerization which could have caused vapourisation. “We are investigating the incident. Right now there is no leak as it has been contained. We will observe the facility for another four hours and give an all clear after a thorough inspection,’’ he said.
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