Vizag Gas Leak (Download PDF)

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Vizag Gas Leak

  • In addition to gas leak in Vizag on 7th May, two boilers also exploded at NLC India Limited’s thermal power station at Neyveli, Tamil Nadu.

  • On 6th May, a gas leak accident took place at a paper mill in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh.

  • What’s common in these accidents is that they took place when the factories were being prepared to open up after COVID-19 lockdown.

Vizag Gas Leak

Vizag Gas Leak

Overview

  • It appears that the common thread in these accidents is poor operational and maintenance practices.

  • The Vizag plant was using styrene (C8H8) to produce expandable plastics.

  • Styrene monomer needs to be stored strictly below 17°C.

  • Since styrene was not being stored at the appropriate temperature during the lockdown, valve was broken due to pressure build up in the storage chamber, resulting in leakage of 3 tonnes of the styrene.

  • Two levels of clearances are required by the industries to process petrochemical based products-

    • An environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change)

    • Consent to Operate (CTO) from State Pollution Control Board (SPCB). CTO needs to be renewed every five years.

  • LG Polymers India Ltd has not adhered to rules at both the levels.

  • Styrene is an organic compound. It is used in the manufacturing of polymers/plastic/resins.

  • Styrene is manufactured in petrochemical refineries. It is a potential carcinogen.

  • Styrene enters body through

    • Respiration

    • Skin

    • Eyes

  • Styrene is classified as ‘hazardous and toxic chemical’, as per India’s Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules 1989.

  • Short term exposure to styrene in humans results in

    • Irritation in mucous membrane and eye

    • Gastrointestinal problems

  • Long term exposure impacts Central Nervous system causing

    • Headache

    • Fatigue

    • Weakness

    • Depression

    • Hearing loss

    • Peripheral neuropathy

- Published/Last Modified on: August 9, 2020

Environment/Ecology, Down-to-Earth

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