Visakhapatnam Gas Leak Highlights (Download PDF)

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  • Styrene, toxic gas leak (3 tonnes) at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh during the early morning hours of May 7,2020.

  • Chemical plant of LG Polymers India Private Ltd (LGPI), an arm of South Korea’s LG Chem.

  • Boilers exploded at NLC India Limited’s thermal power station at Neyveli, Tamil Nadu in which 8 people got injured.

  • On May 6,2020 a gas leak accident that had taken place at a paper mill in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh.

  • Common threads in all the accidents:

    • Poor operational maintenance practices.

    • Shortage of skilled staffs.

  • Styrene monomer is used in the plant for producing expandable plastics.

  • Styrene monomer must be stored at temperatures below 17℃.

  • As styrene was not being stored at an appropriate temperature, there was a pressure build up in the storage chamber which caused the valve to break.

  • Release of the gas was 500 times higher than the prescribed limit (2500 PPB as per media reports), WHO permitted limit is 5 PPB.

Past Gas Leak Incidents in India

Past Gas Leak Incidents in India

Styrene and Its Toxicity

  • Styrene is an organic compound.

  • Used in the manufacture of polymers/plastics/resins.

  • Manufactured in petrochemical refineries and is likely a carcinogen.

  • Can enter the body through respiration, skin and eyes.

  • India’s Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989:

    • Styrene is classified as a hazardous and toxic chemical.

  • Short term exposure can cause irritation in the mucous membrane and eye along with gastrointestinal problems.

  • Long term exposure can impact the central nervous system resulting in headache, fatigue, weakness and depression, dysfunction, hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy.

  • Styrene level beyond 800 ppm can result into a person falling in coma.

  • Treatment:

    • To give oxygen to the affected people.

    • Evacuation of the people in the zone as long term exposure can be detrimental to health.

    • Gas is further expected to disperse with the winds blowing from the sea.

Disasters in the Pipeline

  • India has 128 contaminated hazardous.

  • 196 probable contaminated sites.

  • Over 1,400 hazardous chemical units.

  • Contaminated Sites:

    • Created when industrial hazardous wastes are disposed.

    • This disposal is by occupiers in unscientific manner or in violations of the rules prescribed.

    • They may include production areas, landfills, dumps, waste storage sites, treatment sites, mine tailings sites, spill sites, chemical wastes handler and storage sites.

Disasters in the Pipeline

Disasters in the Pipeline



Hazardous Sites


Phenols, cyanide, lead, chromium, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, zinc, aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic carbons




Madhya Pradesh

Zinc, arsenic, lead, sulphate, chlorides, aluminium, iron





Cyanide, lead, zinc, sulphate, chromium, cadmium, volatile fatty acids





Chromium, copper, cobalt, cadmium, arsenic, zinc





Chromium, heavy metals, cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic. beryllium




Lead, endosulfan, dicofol, thorium oxalate, ammonium sulphate, rare-earth fluoride, chloride, thiozoles, sulphamides and antioxidants





Chromium, inorganic salts, organics





Chromium, zinc, inorganic acids, lead, heavy metals, pesticide residue, phenol




Heavy metals, chromium





Chromium, mercury, volatile organic compounds



Himachal Pradesh





Cadmium, lead, chromium, copper, nickel, zinc, nitrate, arsenic




Uttar Pradesh

Chromium, lead, fluoride, pesticides





Asbestos, lead



West Bengal

Nitrate, phenol, lead, chromium, aromatic hydrocarbons









Lead, arsenic, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, cyanide





Fluordie, phosphate, chloride, chromium, vanadium, cyanide, mercury





Arsenic, chromium, cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, oil/fuel hydrocarbons



CCHZ-Confirmed Contaminated Hazardous Sites

PCHS-Probable Contaminated Hazardous Sites

HCU-Hazardous chemical units

Storage and Handling

The Environment (Protection Act, 1986)

  • Omnibus Act.

  • Gives sweeping powers to the central govt. to take all measures for protecting the environment.

Hazardous Waste Management and Handling Rules, 1989

  • Amended in January 6,2000 and May 21,2003.

  • Shall apply to the handling of hazardous wastes as specified in Schedules.

  • Shall not be applicable to:

    • Waste water and exhaust gases as covered under the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (6 of 1974) and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (14 of 1981) and rules made there under

    • Wastes arising out of the operation from ships beyond five kilometres as covered under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 (44 of 1958) and the rules made thereunder.

    • Radio-active wastes as covered under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962

    • (33 of 1962) and rules made there under.

    • Bio-medical wastes covered under the Bio-Medical Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998 made under the Act;

    • Wastes covered under the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 made under the Act; and

    • The lead acid batteries covered under the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001 made under the Act.

  • In these rules, unless the context otherwise requires:

    • “Act” means the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986);

    • “applicant” means a person or an organization that applies, in Form 1, for granting of authorization to perform specific activities connected with handling of hazardous wastes;

    • “auction” means bulk sale of wastes by invitation of tenders or auction, contract or negotiation by individual (s), companies or Government departments;

    • “auctioneer” means a person or an organization that auctions wastes;

    • “authorization” means permission for collection, transport, treatment, reception, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes, granted by the competent authority in Form-2;

    • “authorized person” means a person or an organization authorized by the competent authority;

    • “Central Pollution Control Board” means the Central Board constituted under sub-section (1) of section 3 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (6 of 1974);

    • “disposal” means deposit, treatment, recycling and recovery of any hazardous wastes;

    • “export” means with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, means taking out of India to a place outside India;

    • “exporter” means any person under the jurisdiction of the exporting country who exports hazardous wastes and the exporting country itself, who exports hazardous wastse to India;

    • “environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes” means taking all steps required to ensure that the hazardous wastes are managed in a manner which will protect health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from such wastes;

    • “facility” means any location wherein the processes incidental to the waste generation, collection, reception, treatment, storage and disposal are carried out;

    • “form” means a Form appended to these rules;

    • “hazardous waste” means any waste which by reason of any of its physical, chemical, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive characteristics causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or when in contact with other wastes or substances, and shall include:

      • wastes listed in column (3) of Schedule-1;

      • wastes having constituents listed in Schedule-2 of their concentration is equal to or more than the limit indicated in the said Schedule; and

      • wastes listed in Lists ‘A’ and ‘B’ of Schedule-3 (Part-A) applicable only in case (s) of import or export of hazardous wastes in accordance with rules 12,13 and 14 if they possess any of the hazardous characteristics listed in Part-B of Schedule-3

Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989

  • Regulation was firstly enacted in 1989 by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF).

  • Amended in 1994 and 2000.

  • It regulates the manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemicals in India.

Chemical Accidents (Emergency, Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996

  • An accident involving a fortuitous, or sudden or unintended occurrence while handling any hazardous chemical resulting in continuous, intermittent or repeated exposure to death, or injury to, any person or damage to any property but does not include an accident by reason only of war or radio-activity.

  • Hazardous chemical” means:

    • Any chemical which satisfies any of the criteria laid down in Part I of Schedule I or is listed in Part 2 of the said Schedule;

    • Any chemical listed in column 2 of Schedule 2;

    • Any chemical listed in column 2 of Schedule 3;

  • Industrial activity includes an operation or process:

    • Carried out in an industrial installation referred to in Schedule 4 involving or is likely to involve one or more hazardous chemicals.

    • On-site storage or on-site transport which is associated with that operation or process as the case may be.

    • Isolated storage

    • Pipeline

NGT or National Green Tribunal Action

  • Formed a five member committee to investigate the mishap and the extent of damage.

    • Former judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

    • Former vice chancellor of Andhra University,

    • Head of the chemical engineering department at Andhra University.

    • Member secretary of COCB.

    • Director of CSIR

  • Also remedial measures to be taken.

  • Report has to be filed within 10 days by the committee.

- Published/Last Modified on: August 26, 2020

Health, Environment/Ecology, Down-to-Earth

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