Vishakapatnam: Prolonged storage and increase in temperature (< 20 degrees) resulted in styrene gas leakage, said an official source of LG Polymers India Limited. The mayhem has led to eleven deaths and scores being affected on May 7th.
Speaking to media persons, Visakhapatnam District Collector V. Vinay Chand, explained On the day of leakage, LG Polymers had stored styrene in 'liquid' form in 2 separate containers, that is, 2,500 kl and 3,500 kl of capacity. The leakage happened during transfer from the bigger vessel.
"The chemical compound Styrene when in liquid form is safe, however must be stored below 20 degrees. Primary investigation found that, due to various technical issues, the refrigeration was not effective, and this resulted in increasing the temperature beyond 20 degrees C. In this condition the Styrene converted in gas form.
Meanwhile an official source from LG polymers added, On the day of leakage, the plant had 2500 metric tons of RM Styrene, while its daily production is of about 400 metric tons. "As per process, raw material of styrene will be converted to poly styrene resulting in product output. Owing to the lockdown that extended thrice, the storage time frame amplified. Long storage and increase in temperature (< 20 degrees ) resulted in styrene leaking from the tank during operations, the General Manager LG polymers - Operations.
What is Styrene?
Styrene, chemically known as ethylbenzene, is a synthetic chemical that evaporates easily, and has the texture of a colourless liquid. This chemical is commonly used in the manufacture of plastic products using in food packaging, rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes and automobile parts.
Among the top 50 chemicals worldwide, styrene was twentieth in 1994 with production of 11,270 million pounds, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Also called PVC gas, polystyrene is found in different forms, Styrene or Polystyrene Plastic, Polystyrene Foam (often referred to as Styrofoam), and Polystyrene Film.