Amid Protest, Chemical Firm Sorry For Leak That Killed 11 At Andhra Plant

LG Polymers India makes polystyrene and expandable polystyrene (AFP)

New Delhi:

The Indian arm of a South Korean chemical major has apologised after a gas leak at its plant in Andhra Pradesh killed 11 and affected at least a thousand people. A tank used to store chemicals for making a wide variety of plastic products leaked into the air at the plant of LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

“At the onset, LG Polymers India would like to express sincere condolences and apologies to all who have been affected by this incident. We would like to assure everyone that the company is committed to work closely with the concerned authorities in India to investigate the cause of this incident, prevent recurrence in the future, and secure the foundation for care and treatment,” the company owned by South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd said in a statement today.

The company said vapour leaked from a tank containing the chemical styrene, a raw material for polystyrene, which is used in products such as food packaging.

There was also tension at village RR Venkatapuram near the LG Polymers plant after people came out on the streets seeking immediate compensation, news agency Press Trust of India reported. The protesters placed the bodies of two people who died due to the gas leak in front of the factory’s gate, PTI reported, adding the incident happened while Director General of Police DG Sawang was inspecting the plant and speaking with the management.

The bodies were brought to the village for cremation on Saturday from a mortuary after post-mortem. The villagers, however, stopped the ambulances in front of the factory’s gate and kept the bodies on the road, PTI reported.

“We are happy to confirm that the status-quo at the plant is brought under control this morning… We are doing our best to extend all the possible support to ensure people and their families who have been affected by this incident are taken care of… Our teams are working day and night with the government to… create concrete measures to deliver an effective care package that can be implemented immediately,” LG Polymers said.

It said a special task force has been set up and the families of those who died and affected by the chemical leak will be contacted soon.

Styrene is a colourless liquid with a sweet smell. Acute exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The National Green Tribunal on Friday told LG Polymers to pay a fine of Rs 50 crore. “There appears to be a failure to comply with rules and other statutory provisions,” the country’s top court on environment issues said in its order.

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