Vijayawada: The port city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh would have faced a catastrophe had the violation of safety norms at the LG Polymers factory there went unnoticed for a few more days.
Experts inspecting the aftermath of last week's styrene gas leak have found, much to their shock, that there were other storage facilities at the factory that were vulnerable to a leak of vapour on a larger scale.
Two of the experts deputed by the Centre have certified that styrene was stored in a high-risk present condition at the factory.
The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday directed the company to immediately take 13000 metric tonnes (MT) of material out of the country. Accordingly, the state government arranged, with the help of the Union Shipping Ministry, a vessel to carry 8000 MT to the company's HQ in Seoul. Another vessel is being arranged to ship 5000 MT out of the factory.
The evacuation will be completed in 3-4 days, said a press release from the Chief Minister’s Office.
Official sources told Deccan Chronicle that two experts deputed by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Dr Anjan Ray, director of the Indian Institute of Petroleum, and Shantanu Geete, an industry expert, inspected the storage facilities at the LG Polymers plants as well as on the Vizag port premises.
"It was noticed that polymerization has just begun in another storage facility on the factory premises,” said a senior official.
The experts also visited the storage facility in the port and found that not all the required safety and technical parameters were being maintained. Dr Ray, who is an expert on styrene, recommended to the government that material from both the factory and the port should immediately cleared.
“The preliminary conclusion is that the storage facilities were not designed to keep the material for a long duration. The plant personnel claimed that the material is emptied every 10-15 days and never stored more than that,” industries minister M Goutham Reddy told Deccan Chronicle.
Meanwhile, the high power committee comprising senior bureaucrats Neerab Kumar Prasad and Karikal Valevan began its probe into the mishap. It visited the plant and interacted with the experts. It also invited inputs from people, who can send information they have to email@example.com.