Situation safe;'Over 60 pc of styrene vapour leak from plant polymerised'

(Eds:Adds details) Amaravati, May 8 (PTI): All the chemical tanks in LG Polymers near Visakhapatnam where a gas breach left 11 dead, are safe following 60 per cent of the styrene vapour polymerising so far, District Collector V Vinay Chand said on Friday.

As many as 11 were killed and 1,000 affected following a gas leak from the plant near Visakhapatnam in the wee hours of Thursday.

.A day after the styrene vapour leak from the LG Polymers plant at RR Venkatapuram, the Andhra Pradesh government said the situation in the region was now 'safe' and there was no need for panic as experts in the field were engaged in neutralising the gas leak impact.

The company also issued a statement saying the situation at the plant was now under control and there was no further leak of the styrene vapour.

'All necessary measures like using added water are being taken to keep the temperature under control,' it said.

In a report submitted to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy during a video conference earlier, the Collector had said it might take 18-24 hours for the remaining vapour to polymerise, a process to bring down the temperature below 20 degree Celsius 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.

Over 400 people, including children, undergoing treatment in various hospitals here were out of danger and recovering from the effects of the vapour leak, sources said.

Deputy Chief Minister (Health) A K K Srinivas, Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy, Agriculture Minister K Kanna Babu and others visited the LG plant and also the King George Hospital and consoled the victims.

Talking to reporters, the Deputy CM said 305 people, including 52 children, were undergoing treatment in the KGH and another 121 in private hospitals.

'All of them are out of danger.Nobody is on ventilator support, ' he said.

In all 554 people suffered from the vapour leak and 128 of them left for relief camps after preliminary treatment.

The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation opened 17 relief camps in the city, where about 15,000 people evacuated from five villages in the plant vicinity were being provided safe shelter.

'The police, local youths, NDRF, SDRF and revenue department personnel did an exemplary job in shifting the people to safety after the vapour leak.

We appreciate and thank all of them,' Srinivas said.

The Deputy CM asked people not to return to their villages till the medical and health officials advised.

'We have opened medical camps at the relief centres and people could avail of the services if necessary,' he added.

Industries Minister Goutham Reddy said concerted efforts were being made by experts in the field to neutralize styrene and the process might take 48 hours.

'The regular operation of the plant has not started and it was only under regular maintenance.

The accident occurred due to some lapse in following the prescribed protocols,' the minister pointed out.

He, however, asserted that stern action would be initiated against those responsible for the leak.

'I told the South Korean Ambassador clearly that they should act in a responsible manner and take all steps as they do when such a mishap occurs in the USA or Europe,' the minister said.

The state government identified 86 such industrial units and they would be allowed to restart their operations only after a safety audit.

'The system has failed somewhere.We are now reworking our system to ensure such hazardous situations do not arise.

We are taking all precautionary measures,' the Industries minister added.

Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, who was camping in Visakhapatnam overseeing the relief measures, 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.PTI DBV SA BN WELCOME BN WELCOME