Visakhapatnam: Two months after the styrene gas leak from LG Polymers plant in Vizag, the city police on 7 July arrested 12 persons, including the CEO and directors of the company.
The arrests were made a day after the high-power committee (HPC), which was constituted by the Andhra Pradesh government to probe the gas leak, submitted its report stating that the management of LG Polymers had ignored earlier warning signs.
The HPC pointed out that in December 2019, the M6 tank from which the styrene vapour had leaked had undergone a major design change that had disrupted the tank’s circulation and mixing system. It also said that on 24 April, the tank had shown initial signs of polymerisation, which led to a high increase in temperature in the tank and leakage of styrene vapour. If the company had seen this as a warning sign and taken corrective action, then the disaster could have been averted, it said.
The arrested persons have been identified as Sunkey Jeong, the managing director and CEO of the South Korean firm; Dongsoo Kim, the technical director; K. Srinivasa Kiran Kumar, the HOD, SMH in-charge; Ch. Venkata Chandra Sekha, engineer SMH operations; K. Gowri Sankara Nagendra Ramu, engineer SMH operations; M. Rajesh, operator SMH operations; R. Satyanarayana, the general manager (production); P. Poorna Chandra Mohan Rao, the additional director (operations); P. Balaji, the production manager and the night duty officer who handled plant operations; A. Atchyut, in-Charge at GPPS; K. Chakrapani, the GPPS plant control room operator; and K. Venkata Narasimha Ramesh Patnaik, the night safety officer.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board has also suspended two officials – R. Lakshmi Narayana and P. Prasad Rao – for allowing LG Polymers to operate without environmental clearance, allowing it to import and store huge quantities of styrene without verifying the safety and environmental issues, and operating without real-time styrene gas monitor at the plant.
The deputy chief inspector of factories, Visakhapatnam, K.B.S Prasad, was also placed under suspension for gross dereliction of duty in connection with the LG Polymers incident.
On 7 May, styrene leak from the LG Polymers factory had led to the death of 12 people, including two children. Over 585 people had been hospitalized with various ailments.