‘Several wrong conclusions drawn in HPC report on Vizag gas leak’

Accidental release of styrene happened from the simplest of the process equipment, the storage tank.
LG Polymers
LG Polymers

VISAKHAPATNAM: Members of Scientists for People have expressed concern that two different independent inquiries, including the high power committee (HPC), into LG Polymers gas leak case have not produced any worthwhile analysis of the incident.

In a statement here on Friday, members of Scientists for People K Babu Rao, K Venkat Reddy and Sagar Dhara said, “In fact, we wonder about their contribution to the investigation process. It pains us to realise that the country with a large scientific human resources is not capable of producing a genuine accident probe report.

“Several wrong conclusions were drawn on the temperature - vapour pressure relation. The HPC report used the same flawed report and reproduced parts of it without verification. The HPC had five terms of reference, including inquiring into the accident. We find hardly any worthy effort on the long-term effects on surrounding villages,” they said.

No recommendations were made on the follow-up studies on the impact on people’s health. Three months after the incident, there is no data on the dose of exposure on individual victims.

There is no information on the post-mortem results of the 12 deaths and how they were caused. They have left the victims to their fate, they said. They said toxic release of styrene vapour on May 7 was the first of its kind in the world in terms of the scale of release and human lives lost. Most of the past accidents involving styrene storages were explosions. About 800 tonnes of styrene vapour were released into the atmosphere before the emissions could be stopped.

They said they attempted an objective appraisal of the HPC report considering that accident investigations are not conducted to blame anyone, but to identify the causes that contributed to the incident. Even the series of accidents in the past three months have not woken up the State government and the authorities, they said.

Preliminary reports into two other accidents in Vizag are examples of what probe reports should not be. Persons are nominated as experts based on their position in the government and not their proven abilities on the subject. They said they concentrated on the technical committee report as it formed the core of the accident investigation.

Accidental release of styrene happened from the simplest of the process equipment, the storage tank. No complex engineering theory is involved in the investigation, they added.

The technical committee failed to recognise the fact that considerable quantity of styrene was polymerised to provide the heat necessary for styrene to release as vapour and all that polystyrene exists in the tank dissolved in styrene. There is no pure styrene in the tank at that time. It is a polystyrene solution, they said.

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The New Indian Express