Vizag gas leak
Vizag gas leak: Who is liable?
WHY IN NEWS:
Centre for Science and Environment attributes accident to LG Polymers’ negligence, not adhering to safety protocol
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Disaster management
For PRELIMS its important to know this chemical and its usage .
For MAINS we have mentioned each act supported with its efficacy .
HOW TOXIC IS STYRENE?
- It is, likely, a carcinogenic substance that can react with oxygen in air to mutate into styrene dioxide, a substance that is more lethal.
- According to The Manufacture, Storage And Import Of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989, styrene is classified as a toxic and hazardous chemical.
CHRONIC IMPACT :
- Chronic (long-term) exposure results in effects on the central nervous system (CNS), including headaches, fatigue, weakness, depression, CSN dysfunction, hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy.
- The duration of the exposure and its relative concentration determines toxicity.
- We currently know that roughly three tonnes of gas leaked from the plant’s styrene storage tank and the feeding line.
- Styrene stays in air for weeks and is highly reactive.
- “The presence of other pollutants can also affect reactivity.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
- The storage requirement of styrene monomer strictly mentions that it has to be below 17 degrees Celsius.
- The leak occurred as a result of styrene gas not being kept at the appropriate temperature.
- This caused a pressure build-up in the storage chamber that contained styrene and caused the valve to break, resulting in the gas leakage.
- The container that was being used to store styrene gas was old and not properly maintained.
- Another issue was a defunct volatile organic compound (VOC) detection system at the plant.
- There is no monitoring mechanism installed to specifically detect styrene.
- The impact zone has been in the range of 2-3 kilometres.
- There is a revenue village and the facility is surrounded by residential areas, resulting in a higher rate of gas exposure.
- The most important immediate treatment is to give oxygen to affected people.
- The people in the zone also need to be evacuated as long-term exposure can be detrimental to their health.
- Also, as styrene reacts to form styrene dioxide, the air could remain contaminated for some time.
- However, the winds blowing from the sea could also help disperse the gas.
GUIDELINES ON HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS IN FACTORIES?
After the Bhopal disaster, many legislations were enacted starting from the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
- According to The Manufacture, Storage And Import Of Hazardous Chemical Rules 1989, styrene is classified as a hazardous and toxic chemical.
SOURCES : DOWNTOEARTH
DID LG POLYMERS INDIA PVT LTD NOT FOLLOW STIPULATED RULES?
- There are clear rules on hazardous chemical storage under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
- The unit is a ISO certified which means it has protocol for everything.
- However, what seems to be the case, is that the plant management, in its haste to re-start the plant has ignored the protocol of doing maintenance of the plant before resuming operation.
- This combined with the lack of proper storage of the gas – not maintained at the temperature required –faulty fixtures could have resulted in the accident
NOT ONLY VIZAG: OTHER PLANTS AS WELL
- This shows us that there are ticking bombs out there as lockdown ends and industries start resuming activity.
- Therefore, immediate directive must go to all units to ensure safety while resuming activity and also in case the lockdown continues, these safety precautions must not be negated.