To minimise the risk and to encourage a successful restart of the industrial units after the lockdown, the NDMA issued detailed guidelines on precautions that need to be taken for the safety of the plants as well as the workers
After scouring the site of LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam, where a gas leak last week killed 12 people and affected hundreds, the forensics team concluded that negligence and human error were responsible for the accident, The Times of India has reported.
According to the preliminary findings of the Andhra Forensic State Laboratory, negligence in adding auto-polymerisation inhibitors in the storage tank containing styrene gas, as well as the failure to maintain the temperature below 20 degrees Celsius amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown led to the gas leak.
A team of forensic experts told the newspaper that styrene, being a liquid polymer which can leak at high temperatures and evaporate easily into the atmosphere, should have been mixed with TBC (tertiary butyl catechol) to prevent self polymerisation. But it wasn’t done.
Meanwhile, LG Polymers issued a statement condoling the death of 12 people. The company said: “At the onset, LG Polymers India would like to express sincere condolences and apologies to all who have been affected by this incident. We would like to assure everyone that the company is committed to work closely with the concerned authorities in India to investigate the cause of this incident, prevent recurrence in the future, and secure the foundation for care and treatment.”
In addition, to minimise the risk and to encourage a successful restart of the industrial units after the lockdown, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued detailed guidelines on precautions that need to be taken for the safety of the plants as well as the workers.
Due to several weeks of lockdown and the closure of industrial units, it is possible that some of the operators might not have followed the established standard operating procedures. As a result, some of the manufacturing facilities, pipelines, valves may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk. The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable material, NDMA said.
The NDMA guidelines said while restarting a unit, the first week should be considered as the trial or test run period after ensuring all safety protocols.Companies should not try to achieve high production targets. There should be 24-hour sanitisation of the factory premises.