'Over 60 pc of styrene vapour leak from plant polymerised'

(Eds: Adds details) Amaravati, May 8 (PTI): Over 60 per cent of the styrene vapour that leaked from a tank in LG Polymers near Visakhapatnam on Thursday, killing at least 11 people, has polymerized so far and all chemical tanks in the plant are safe, District Collector V Vinay Chand said on Friday.

In a report submitted to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy during a video conference, the Collector said it might take 18-24 hours for the remaining vapour to polymerise, a process to bring down the temperature below 20 degree Celcius where styrene remains in its original liquid form, and turn safe.

'We have taken all measures to plug the leak completely and experts are closely monitoring the situation. The situation is now fully under control,' the Collector added.

On Thursday, he had said a technical glitch in the refrigeration unit attached to the two styrene tanks at the plant had caused the vapour leak.

'Styrene monomer is normally in a liquid state and is safe below a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. But because of the malfunctioning of the refrigeration unit, the chemical started gasifying,' the Collector, quoting a preliminary report by the Factories Department, had said yesterday.

On Friday, Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, who was camping in Visakhapatnam overseeing the relief measures, also said the situation was totally under control and that all tanks in the unit were safe.

Responding to this, the Chief Minister directed the officials to speak to the engineers and explore steps to utilise the raw material and chemicals in the plant fully.

'Also, take steps to remove the chemicals from the plant to another place,' he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney issued an order appointing a high-level probe into the causes behind the gas leak and suggest measures to improve the protocol for industrial safety of similar types of plants.

Special Chief Secretary (Environment and Forests) Neerabh Kumar Prasad will be its chairman and Pollution Control Board Secretary Vivek Yadav will be the member-convenor.

Special CS (Industries), Visakhapatnam District Collector and city Police Commissioner will be the other members.

'The Committee shall inquire into the reasons for the leakage and verify if the company adhered to all safety protocols.

It will study if there are any long-term effects of the gas leakage on the surrounding villages,' the Chief Secretary said.

'The Committee will also recommend proposed action to be taken against the unit by the government, in case of any negligence on the vapour leak incident in Visakhapatnam,' she added.

The Committee has been asked to submit its report within a month.

As many as 11 people were killed in the early morning gas leak on Thursday which affected around 1,000 people. PTI DBV SA APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH