Affidavit filed by MoEF&CC on gas leak at LG Polymers, R R Venkatapuram village, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, May 2020

  • 29/05/2020

Affidavit filed on behalf of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the matter of gas leak at LG Polymers chemical plant in R R Venkatapuram village, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Status of approvals and compliance The unit has been issued Consent to Operate by Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board to manufacture 313 TPD of polystyrene and 102 TPD of expandable polystyrene which was valid up to December 31, 2021.

The unit was connected with Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Online Continuous Emission Monitoring System (OCEMS) for transmitting real time emission and effluent data to CPCB servers. On March 24, 2020 the unit had sent a mail to CPCB stating the stoppage of plant operations. CPCB reported that as per the OCEMS data available with it, no values were recorded between March 24, 2020 to May 5, 2020. Further, the OCEMS was reactivated on May 6, 2020.

Details of leakage: 

The unit have two raw material (styrene monomer) storage tanks of 2500KL and 3500KL. Apart from the main storage tanks, three standby tanks of Styrene Monomer was also established in the unit. All the tanks were provided with internal cooling system type of refrigeration to maintain the temperature below 20ºC. The styrene gas was reportedly leaked from 2500KL storage tanks. The quantity of leaked gas was not known. The unit had high volume of raw material storage due to shutdown and there was also failure of the refrigeration system – these being some of the reasons for the accident.

Safety related regulations: 

To address the issues related to chemical safety, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had put in a regulatory mechanism of the Manufacture, Storage ad Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989 (MSIHC Rules, 1989) and Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 (CAEPPR Rules, 1996) with the support of state governments.

The objective of these rules was to prevent major chemical accidents arising from industrial activities and limiting the effects of such accidents on human health and environment. Styrene has been listed as a hazardous chemical.

Action by MoEFCC: 

The ministry has asked the Special Chief Secretary (Environment) Andhra Pradesh and Chairman, APPCB to take further actions in line with the provisions of MSIHC Rules, 1989 and CA (EPPR) Rules, 1996. A detailed accident report has to be filed within 90 days.

A meeting of the Central Crisis Group was held, wherein it was informed that due to failure of refrigeration system and high ambient temperatures, the authorities are continuously working to keep the existing storages of styrene monomer below 20ºC through water sprinkling. Further, Mercaptan (inhibitor) available in the plant was used to stabilize another three tanks of styrene monomer in the plant and required stocks of Mercapton was being arranged from Gujarat. A team from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) was already at the site to aid, assist and advise the authorities to control the situation.

After detailed deliberations, the chair requested the members to submit their suggestions on the situations that could further help in keeping the storage of styrene monomer under control in absence of refrigeration system.

Note: The report was uploaded to the NGT site on May 29, 2020