Andhra Pradesh

‘LG plant staff not qualified to handle styrene leak’

The high-power committee which probed the circumstances that led to the leak of styrene monomer vapour at LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam on May 7 has mentioned in its report that the staff of the plant were neither adequately qualified nor experienced to handle such emergency situations.

“Many staff at the plant discharging the duties of engineers were just science graduates or intermediate passouts. They were running the plant which dealt with styrene, which is categorised as a hazardous chemical,” suggests the report.

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The committee has also pointed out that a section of the top, middle and shift managements at LG Polymers did not have the required expertise and knowledge. The plant management was also not forthcoming in divulging the complete details of the HR strength. The panel has observed that many chemical engineers employed at the plant for the last 20 to 30 years had either retired or left the company, and most of the existing shift in-charges and engineers were not qualified engineers.

Many employees, who were recruited with basic science degrees or intermediate qualification, were promoted as engineers based on their experience, the panel has said.

Technical evaluation

The three-member committee appointed by the HPC for technical evaluation of the styrene monomer leak clearly mentioned that “these employees promoted as engineers might have followed the operating manuals and SOPs while running the plant. But their knowledge and skills would not be adequate when it comes to dealing with a challenge or an emergency,”

As per the list submitted by the plant management to the HPC, among the total 26 chemical engineers, four are South Korean nationals, 17 diploma chemical engineers who are trainees and five chemical engineers who do not have the requisite experience for running a plant dealing with styrene.

The technical committee has observed that a plant such as LG Polymers needed well-qualified engineers with a minimum of 20 years of experience in dealing with styrene.

The committee has also questioned whether it was due to cost reduction that LG polymers did not employ the right candidates, which ultimately proved fatal.

The technical committee comprising IIPE Director V.S.R.K. Prasad and Andhra University professors Bala Prasad and K.V. Rao has observed that the director (operations) should be a chemical engineer, and the person at the helm of operations at LG Polymers held an M.Sc degree in instrumentation.

The technical panel has also found that most of the process units were being manned by senior engineers and managers who had the qualifications of intermediate or bachelor’s degree in science.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:42:08 PM |

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