On Tuesday, the Andhra Pradesh High Court granted bail to 12 people, including the Chief Executive Officer of LG Polymers Limited, in connection with the styrene gas tragedy that claimed twelve lives and had left over 500 hospitalized in Vizag city on May 7.
Two months later, on July 7, the officials of South-Korean chemicals giant were arrested by the Vizag city police.
LG Polymers’s Managing Director and CEO Sunkey Jeong, technical director DS Kim, additional director (operations) PP Chandra Mohan Rao, head of the department and shift in-charge KS Kiran Kumar, team leader (production) Raju Satyanarayana were among those who were arrested.
An expert committee, known as a High Power Committee (HPC), appointed by the Andhra Pradesh government, had named LG Polymers liable for the accident. It was based on this report’s findings that the arrests were made. The HPC report concluded that the poor design of the tank of styrene gas, inadequate refrigeration and faulty cooling system, absence of circulation and mixing systems, inadequate measures and parameters, poor safety protocol, poor safety awareness and total breakdown of the emergency response of the procedures were the root cause of the major mishap.
The gas leakage affected the adjoining villages of Venkatapuram. The chairman of HPC, Neerabh Kumar Prasad, also observed that the inadequate risk assessment response, poor process safety management system, slackness of management, insufficient knowledge among staff, insufficient knowledge of the chemical properties of styrene, especially during storage conditions and non-observance of the safety protocol by the authorities during the lockdown period were other reasons for the tragedy.
Days after the styrene vapours leaked, about 13,000 tonnes of styrene from the LG Polymers plant were shipped back to the company's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.
Apart from the tank that leaked, the company had stored styrene imported from Singapore in another tank inside the plant, and in two tanks at the Visakhapatnam Port.
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