Why in news?

Eleven people, including a six-year-old girl, died and over 350 were admitted to hospitals after styrene monomer gas leaked from a chemical plant belonging to LG Polymers at RR Venkatapuram in Visakhapatnam on 7th May 2020.

Details and Case Registered

Vizag Gas Leak Toxic Gas Details
  • The company was earlier called Hindustan Polymers. It was taken over by the South Korea-based LG Chem in 1997.
  • It manufactures polystyrene, a basic material used in fibreglass and rubber for making toys and appliances.
  • The Gopalapatnam police have registered a case against the management of LG Polymers under Sections 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health), 284 (Negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance), 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others and 304 (II) of the IPC.

Handling the Gas Leak

  • Police said: The gas was not lethal, but prolonged exposure to it could affect the central nervous system, which may lead to depletion of oxygen to the brain and cause nausea, vomiting and breathlessness.
  • Following the leak, the company and the district administration took up elaborate sprinkling of water inside the plant and in the affected areas.

Bits about Visakhapatnam

Vizag Visakhapatnam Andhra Pradesh Map
Visakhapatnam
  • Visakhapatnam (aka Vizag) is a coastal city in Andhra Pradesh, that lies between the Eastern Ghats and the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
  • The city is set to become the executive capital of Andhra Pradesh once a decentralization bill is enacted the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
  • It is one of the four smart cities of Andhra Pradesh selected under Smart Cities Mission.
  • The city is home to the oldest shipyard and the only natural harbour on the east coast of India.
  • Visakhapatnam Port is the fifth-busiest cargo port in India, and the city is home to the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Command and South Coast Railway zone.
  • It has been nicknamed the “City of Destiny” and the “Jewel of the East Coast”.

Gas Leak in the Past: Bhopal Gas Tragedy

  • The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
  • It is considered to be the world’s worst industrial disaster.
  • Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas a highly toxic substance that made its way into and around the small towns located near the plant.
  • The initial effects of exposure were coughing, severe eye irritation and a feeling of suffocation, burning in the respiratory tract, blepharospasm, breathlessness, stomach pains and vomiting.
  • Thousands of people had died by the following morning, primary causes of deaths were choking, reflexogenic circulatory collapse and pulmonary oedema.
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