India chemical plant where leak killed 12 should be moved, report recommends

Click to play video: 'Emergency personnel respond following deadly gas leak at LG Polymers plant in southern India'
Emergency personnel respond following deadly gas leak at LG Polymers plant in southern India
A chemical gas leak at an LG Polymers plant in southern India on Thursday killed at least nine people, and emergency services rushed more than 300 to hospital and evacuated hundreds more from nearby areas, a police official in Andhra Pradesh state told Reuters. – May 7, 2020

An investigation into a deadly gas leak at a South Korean-owned chemical plant in southern India that killed 12 people in May recommended the factory be moved away from inhabited areas, according to its full report released on Tuesday.

The probe at the plant run by LG Polymers, owned by South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd, found the company was negligent and warning systems were not working, the local state government said on Monday.

The investigation was set up after toxic styrene gas leaked from the chemical plant near the Indian city of Visakhapatnam in the early hours of May 7, choking many people who were sleeping and killing 12.

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LG Chem said on Tuesday it had undertaken a host of safety measures.

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“We have fully cooperated for the investigation, and we will sincerely respond to the probe result and take corresponding measures,” LG Chem said in a statement.

Click to play video: '1 dead, 1 missing after chemical plant explosion in Spain'
1 dead, 1 missing after chemical plant explosion in Spain

In its report, the committee listed 21 major reasons for the accident including improper storage design, haphazard maintenance of the old storage tank and disregard for red flags. It blamed the company’s management for 20 of those causes.

The temperature inside the oldest of the three storage tanks holding styrene monomer, a chemical used in making polystyrene products, rose to more than six times the permitted level due to polymerization, a chemical reaction that generates heat.

“The company management had ignored the rise in polymer content from 4th April 2020 and then the sharp rise on 25th April 2020/28th April 2020,” the committee said.

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“The management considers polymer content as a quality measure for styrene rather than a safety measure,” it said.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan in Chennai and Jane Chung in Seoul; editing by Richard Pullin)

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