VISAKHAPATNAM: A five-member Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), headed by Justice Seshasayana Reddy, on Monday submitted its 168-page report on LG Polymers gas leak to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), citing reasons which include human negligence and security lapses, that led to the industrial mishap.The NGT asked LG Polymers to convey its objection, if any, within 24 hours. The NGT is likely to deliver its judgment in a day or two. The committee submitted its interim report in the third week of May.
The JMC, in its final report, said the LG Polymers plant was closed due to lockdown and it was permitted to take up daily maintenance with 15 personnel per each shift. After the State government announced that industries could resume operations from May 4, the management proposed to reopen the plant on May 7.
The M6 storage tank (containing 1,830 tonnes of styrene) developed a leak and styrene vapours spread towards the west side due to wind direction and affected people of RR Venkatapuram, Venkatadri Nagar, Nandamuri Nagar, Pydimamba Colony and SC/BC Colony.
It said the root cause was lack of experience of LG Polymers and LG Chem in monitoring and maintaining full tanks of styrene that were left idle for several weeks. The plant failed to assess the situation by trained manpower.Recommending prosecution of the LG Polymers management under the CrPC, the committee suggested establishment of district crisis group, led by the District Collector, to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future.
The group should meet once in every 45 days to review the safety and hazards of each and every industry.Lack of proper safety response preparedness at the plant had impacted early stages of operations. Besides, the public siren system could not be activated. Otherwise, many lives could have been saved, it said.
Owing to exothermic reaction, the styrene started auto polymerising and led to rapid reaction and heating. As the temperature rose, styrene started vapourising. Following increase in pressure in the tank, five safety valves on the M6 tank rooftop opened and started emitting vapour. The report said the emission started at 2:42 am. No alarm generated when vapour leakage occurred and auto sensor of styrene failed to detect it.
Mitigation of the impact could have been more effective had the chillers servicing M6 tank been running, it said. The chillers were switched off at 5 pm as per routine practice as it requires little or no chilling at night.
TBC, inihibitor of the polymerisation reaction, was not effective after liquid styrene temperature rose above 52 degree Celsius.The report said the breather vent through which styrene vapour escaped was 8 inch in diameter, enabling a significant outflow at the high temperature and pressure generated by reaction. This points to lapses on the part of the plant managing director and safety officer. Besides, M6 is an old tank in design terms and this possibly contributed to the problem. The report said the tank did not have the temperature sensors in the middle and top.
45-year-old man from Venkatapuram dies
Yelamanchili Kanakaraju (45) from RR Venkatapuram died while undergoing treatment at Suraksha Hospital at Gopalapatnam on Monday. The relatives of the deceased and Left party leaders claimed that Kanakaraju died due to post-gas leak complications. They said he was suffering from respiratory problems, nausea and gastric trouble for the past seven days. However, King George Hospital Superintendent G Arjuna said the relatives should file a medico legal case so that post-mortem will be done to ascertain the reasons for Kanakaraju’s death.