Visakhapatnam: Styrene, the chemical compound that led to Vizag gas leak has been transported to South Korea on Tuesday, 12 May. After getting clearance from the Vizag Customs, the styrene monomer stored at warehouses of the LG Polymers was loaded in a vessel to South Korea in a ship. About 5,000 tonnes of styrene was shipped on Tuesday evening.

Earlier, 8,500 tonnes of styrene, which was at a storage facility at the Visakhapatnam port, had already been shipped. LG Polymers imports styrene from South Korea as manufacturing at its plant is said to be costlier.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy the state ministers to do a clearance check of hazardous units and also directed officials to make arrangements to send the remaining stock of styrene at LG Polymers to South Korea.

B Satyanarayana, the Andhra Pradesh minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development, said 13,000 tonnes of styrene will be sent back to LG Chemicals, the owners of LG Polymers.

Industries Minister M Goutham Reddy, said “Strict action would be taken against the company after the investigation into the leak is completed and a report is submitted by a government-appointed committee.

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.

Out of these, styrene monomer is considered to be the toxic substance. As listed in the CDC- ATDSR toxic substances portal, the styrene monomer, if subject to polymerisation in a closed container, can lead to rupture and leakage. The harmful effects of this styrene monomer include severe irritation to eyes and mucuous membranes, as well as gastro-intestinal effects.

Chronic exposure to styrene leads to effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression, CSN dysfunction, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy.

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