Andhra Pradesh

Gas leak: high-power panel to probe change in design of LG Polymers tank

High-power committee chairman Neerabh Kumar Prasad interacting with the media in Visakhapatnam on Monday.  

The high-power committee probing into the gas leak incident at LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam on Monday said that the experts had brought to its notice that the design of tank in which styrene monomer was stored had been changed and a detailed investigation would be done in this regard.


Speaking to the media, the panel members said the experts had made several observations and all would taken into account during the probe.

The tank design was apparently changed sometime in 2019 reportedly due to some issues with the floats. A chemical responsible for maintaining the temperature thereby preventing auto-polymerisation of styrene monomer was reportedly pumped into the tank from the bottom level owing to the change in design. However, the best suited practice mandates that the chemical should be pumped from the mid-level of the tank. And it was reportedly done without the approval of the authorities concerned including the Department of Factories.

With the chemical reportedly being added from the lower level of the tank, there was a possibility that it did not react with the styrene monomer in the upper part, leading to auto-polymerisation due to the rise in temperature.

The auto-polymerisation might have led to formation of styrene vapour that leaked out from the gooseneck and dip hatch.

“These are some observations made by the experts. We will probe into every aspect in detail,” said Special Chief Secretary (Environment and Forests) Neerabh Kumar Prasad, who is leading the high-power committee while interacting with the media here.

The media interaction was done as part of the inquiry and the HPC members agreed to the reports of some possible discrepancy in the number people present inside the plant at the time of the incident.

Lack of alarm

Initially, the company had claimed that there were 15 people at the time of gas leak, but experts probing the incident reported that the number was eight and those present were reportedly not qualified to discharge the duty assigned to them.

“This also has come to our notice and we have asked the plant management to submit full details of their HR list,” said Nerabh Kumar.

In response to a question raised by The Hindu on the allegations of lack of gas leak alarm, the committee members said that it has been brought to their notice by experts.

Expert medial team

Mr. Neerabh Kumar said the district administration has been told to constitute a high-level medical team to monitor the health of the people affected by the gas leak. The team will focus focussing on six major areas such as eyes, lungs, skin, gastroenterology, paediatrics and gynaecology.

“Basic data will be collected every time a person from the affected areas visits a hospital and these special areas should be monitored every month for at least a year,” said the Chairman of HPC.

Expert teams will also be formed to monitor the health and changes in the wildlife, livestock, trees and plants.

According to him, even as styrene does not dissolve in water, the usage of water from Meghadrigedda reservoir and ground water would be recommended only after reconfirmation from the testing labs.

To monitor the effect of styrene on soil, scientists are working on a GIS model to map the impact of its spread.

“Styrene is a heavy vapour and it had settled down on the soil, but how much area is effected, considering various factors such as wind speed and wind directions on that day, is being studied and will be mapped and physically earmarked as red, orange and yellow,” said Mr. Nerabh Kumar.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 3:00:42 AM |

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