100th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra180298931548053 Tamil Nadu94049529261264 Delhi89802599922803 Gujarat33318240381869 Uttar Pradesh2405616629718 West Bengal1917012528683 Rajasthan1831214574421 Telangana173578082267 Karnataka165148065253 Andhra Pradesh152526988193 Haryana1494110499240 Madhya Pradesh1386110655581 Bihar10204781173 Assam8956583212 Jammu and Kashmir76954856105 Odisha7316535333 Punjab56683989149 Kerala4594243626 Uttarakhand2791190937 Chhatisgarh2339193713 Jharkhand2339160512 Tripura140110931 Manipur12605790 Goa11984783 Himachal Pradesh9796179 Puducherry73930112 Nagaland5351820 Chandigarh4463676 Arunachal Pradesh182601 Mizoram1601230 Sikkim88490 Meghalaya50421
Nation Current Affairs 10 Jun 2020 Scientists: How can ...

Scientists: How can LG Polymers gas leak be probed by officials who cleared it?

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DC CORRESPONDENT
Published Jun 10, 2020, 10:53 am IST
Updated Jun 10, 2020, 10:53 am IST
'The High-Power Committee has inexperienced members who are only doing loud thinking'
The High Power Committee (HPC) on the LG Polymers styrene gas leak meets to record testmony of several civic agencies. The committee is headed by senior IAS officer Neerabh Kumar Prasad and special chief secretary of industries R Karikal Valaven. (DC Photo by K N Murali krishna)
 The High Power Committee (HPC) on the LG Polymers styrene gas leak meets to record testmony of several civic agencies. The committee is headed by senior IAS officer Neerabh Kumar Prasad and special chief secretary of industries R Karikal Valaven. (DC Photo by K N Murali krishna)

Visakhapatnam: Scientists who are watching the official probes set up into the styrene gas leak from a factory on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam on May 7 are crying foul that the investigating committee is packed with "wrong persons" or inexperienced 'experts' whose only contribution has been to think aloud.

In one case, the probe panel includes a member of the AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) who was on the very committee that okayed expansion of the plant in question.

 

The gas leak occurred from a plant operated by L G Polymers at Venkatapalem village outside Visakhaptanam in the early hours of May 7. Horrific scenes of people gasping for breath and falling like leaves in the street unfolded, and more than a dozen people perished before the gas was attenuated.

The state government set up a High-Power Committee (HPC) to investigate the tragedy, and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered constitution of another probe into the case.

Scientists say this is eyewash. Dr K Babu Rao, a retired senior scientist of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and a member of Scientists for People, said, "Instead of presenting a clear picture of the incident, the HPC is confusing people with unstructured loud thinking by inexperienced members. Their nomination was purely based on academics, but not experience with process. The lack of safety experts on the committee presents an issue of conflicts of interest."

More seriously, the probe team includes some experts who had a part in the expansion of L G Polymers.

"Some of the members have been associated with the APPCB as experts on the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) which approved the expansion of LG Polymers and recommended consent and authorization without an EC (environment clearance). This cannot be simply brushed off. A probe into the systemic causes of the incident must include managerial and regulatory failures too."

He added, "This is like the APPCB investigating itself. It generates doubts about the objectivity of the probe."

The HPC comprises APPCB member secretary Vivek Yadav, who is also a member of the SEAC that scrutinizes project proposals. When contacted, he declined to comment on the matter.

However, APPCB chairman BSS Prasad said LG Polymers had approached the SEAC claiming to be a B-category industry. "But as it comes under A-category, the company was referred to the Expert Appraisal Committee of Union Environment Ministry. But it (the company) started operations without even getting their approval, " he said.

Scientists are questioning some of the observations of the HPC. One in particular is this: “Auto-polymerisation might have led to formation of styrene vapour that leaked out from the gooseneck and dip hatch.”

Experts in the Scientists for People call this a speculative statement. A month after the accident and several visits to the site, HPC could not present a picture of the tank roof and nozzles on it. A gooseneck releases the vapour downwards and spreads the release instead of in a jet. The HPC members might be hypothesizing without evidence, said Sagar Dhara, a Hyderabad-based environmental engineer and former faculty member of BITS Pilani.

Static electricity generation is a problem in styrene storage. Normal practices with other non-volatile liquids are not applicable to styrene. The reason deduced by the HPC is not supported by the best industrial practices, he opined. 

...




ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT