The high-power committee, constituted by the AP government to probe the LG Polymers styrene leakage in May, has suggested that any industrial estate should invariably be developed away from human habitations, especially if they are hazardous units, to prevent loss of lives during industrial accidents. In the early morning incident on May 7, 12 persons had died along with scores of animals. More than a thousand people fell sick after being exposed to the vapours. The committee, led by special chief secretary Neerabh Kumar Prasad, has also recommended shifting of the LG unit from RR Venkatapuram village near Visakhapatnam to a notified industrial area and using the existing premises for a green or white category unit or for residential purposes.
The committee said it was high time precautions were taken and online monitoring of effluents and emissions was done by the AP Pollution Control Board and Central Pollution Control Board since several hazardous chemical units are functioning close to the residential areas in Visakhapatnam. The committee, which submitted a report to chief minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy a few days ago, cited negligence on the part of LG Polymers management as the main reason for the styrene leak.
Lapse on the part of factory mgmt in alerting locals: Panel
Neerabh Kumar said they have made administrative, technical and regulatory recommendations to the government. once every year. A local crisis group should be constituted immediately by all hazardous units to deal with any emergency,” he told TOI. In the 319-page report (in possession of TOI), the committee said a factory safety board should be set up by every state and monitored by a central factory safety board to oversee factory safety laws, rules and regulations. It also said that an annual safety audit and annual environmental audit by the respective regulatory bodies should be made mandatory
Taking note of the styrene monomer leaking from one of the storage tanks and spreading over a radius of 3 km on that fateful day, the committee said that instead of huge tanks of capacity of 2,000 kilo litres and above, hazardous chemicals should be stored in small tanks.
“Bulk hazardous chemical storage facilities may be shifted from the industrial premises to bulk storage facilities, which are away from habitations and can be transported to factory by tankers/pipelines. There should be a constant monitoring of on-site and off-site emergency plans in respect of such hazardous industries located close to the residential areas,” the committee suggested.
The committee also said there was a serious lapse on the part of the factory management in alerting the local people. “For an early identification of any eventuality, adequate number of sensors attached with a hooter system to identify the release of toxic and hazardous gases inside and outside the units should be set up. The sensor activation should alert local police stations, the nearest fire station, SDRF cell at the district collectorate, inspector of factories and the regional office of APPCB,” the report said.
The government had constituted a nine-member committee to probe the circumstances leading to the styrene leakage and make suggestions to prevent such incidents.