Ten people, including a child, have died and over 5,000 have reportedly fallen ill after gas leaked overnight from a chemical plant of a multinational firm in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
According to the reports, a chemical gas leakage was reported early morning on Thursday at LG Polymers factory in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. More than 200 have been admitted to the hospitals following the leak of styrene gas from an LG Polymers facility located near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
After the report of gas leak poured in, police and ambulance were called on the spot. The leakage reportedly happened at around 3 AM near the Naiduthota area which is close to Gopalapatnam. The people present in the vicinity were taken to hospital after they complained of burning sensation in eyes and breathing difficulties.
More than 5,000 affected, people fell unconscious
At least three surrounding villages are being evacuated and house-to-house checks are on. Reportedly, more than a 5,000 people in five surrounding villages, in a three km radius, have been reported sick.
According to eyewitnesses, people were found unconscious in lanes, ditches and near houses. Efforts were underway to plug the leak. The incident created panic in a 3 km radius area. The maximum impact of the gas was in a 1-1.5 km radius area, but the smell of the gas was present up to 2-2.5 km.
Soon after the matter came to light, local police rushed to the area and launched evacuation of the locals. Hundreds of people were admitted to private and government hospitals with the help of police and locals. The NDRF and SDRF teams have been deployed in the area and a rescue operation is under way. Cops have asked the people to come out of the homes in the impact and move to safer areas.
Styrene gas contained, FIR filed
City Police Commissioner RK Meena confirmed that the gas was styrene. He said that the gas leak has been neutralised and NDRF team has reached the spot to control the situation. The gas leaked from a tank containing around 2000 metric ton of styrene in the plant. The police Commissioner also stated that an FIR had been registered in the case.
Styrene, also known as ethenylbenzene, vinylbenzene, and phenylethene, is an organic compound, which is a derivative of benzene. Although it is an oily liquid, it evaporates easily. Styrene is a “known carcinogen”, especially in case of eye contact, but also in case of skin contact, of ingestion and of inhalation. Styrene is largely metabolized into styrene oxide in humans, which is toxic, mutagenic, and possibly carcinogenic. Styrene has been described by US health authorities as “a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and respiratory system, among others”. Although it being carcinogenic has not been confirmed beyond doubt, some studies have pointed toward the relationship between occupational exposure to styrene and cancer. The U.S. National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that styrene is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.
Styrene is used to make latex, synthetic rubber, and polystyrene resins. The LG Polymers uses it to manufacture polystyrene and its co-polymers. It is used to make plastic packaging, disposable cups and containers, insulation, and other products.
Andhra Pradesh CM to visit Vishakapatnam
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy enquired about the gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam and directed the district officials to take every possible step to save lives and bring the situation under control.
A statement from the CMO office said, “Due to a massive gas leak from LG Polymers plant in Venkatapuram created panic in the wee hours on Thursday, where many fell ill and being treated at King George Hospital.”
The Chief Minister is expected to leave for Vishakapatnam and will visit the hospital where the affected were being treated.
Meanwhile, the LG Chemicals, which owns the Visakhapatnam plant operator LG Polymers India, said, “The gas leak situation is now under control and we are exploring all ways to provide speedy treatment for those who suffer from inhaling the leaked gas”.