Andhra police arrest LG Polymers’ top executives in styrene gas leakage accident

The styrene gas leakage at the South Korean firm’s unit on early hours of May 7 killed 15 persons and affected over thousand people in the colonies and villages in around 2 kilometre range.

ANI
A day after the high power committee submitted its report on styrene gas leakage accident at South Korean firm LG Polymers’ unit at Visakhapatnam in May, the Andhra Pradesh police announced arresting the company’s managing director and chief executive and eleven top executives.

The styrene gas leakage at the South Korean firm’s unit on early hours of May 7 killed 15 persons and affected over thousand people in the colonies and villages in around 2 kilometre range.

The company management blamed the mishap on an unfortunate auto-polymerisation process that took place during more than 40 days of a shutdown of the operations during the national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The accident took place while LG Polymers was preparing to resume operations on May 7 after being closed for weeks during the lockdown.


The arrested include LG Polymers India’s MD & CEO Sunkey Jeong, technical director DS Kim, additional operations director P Poorna Chandra Mohan Rao, and nine others including the engineers responsible for the operations.

Within hours, the AP Pollution Control Board on Wednesday announced suspending the current and previous regional officers of PCB at Visakhapatnam “in response to the report submitted by the high power committee on LP Polymers Visakhapatnam gas accident.”

Immediately after the arrest, the AP police in a statement said, “Investigation discloses that the accident at M6 Styrene storage tank was taken place due to negligence of the above persons who are also having knowledge that such of their acts are likely to cause death.”
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Producing the 12 accused executives of LG Polymers before the court seeking their judicial remand, the police, under the supervision of Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner RK Meena, said the “case is under investigation in stage as reports from various departments have to be received and examination of witnesses.”

The Andhra police said the investigation so far revealed that the accident occurred due to “the poor design of M6 tank, inadequate refrigeration and cooling system, absence of circulation systems, inadequate measurement parameters, weak safety protocol, poor safety awareness, inadequate risk assessment and response, poor management, slackness of management, insufficient knowledge amongst staff, insufficient understanding of the chemical properties of Styrene, especially during storage under idle conditions and total breakdown of the emergency response procedures.”

Earlier, amid reports that LG Polymers shifted styrene gas from its storage tanks to South Korea after the accident pending probe, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on May 24 ordered the closure of the factory and barred the company directors from leaving the country.

A week after the toxic gas leakage accident, LG Polymers announced bringing its experts team from South Korea to investigate the cause of accident and support the rehabilitation, and said the styrene monomer inventory was shifted to South Korea by vessels “to prevent and eliminate all risks factors.”
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The South Korean firm is currently involved in a legal battle with the Indian courts including the National Green Tribunal at Delhi which had invoked ‘strict liability’ clause against LG Polymers and ordered to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crore for compensation against the damage to life, public health and environment.
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