More than over 60 per cent of the gas leaked from the plant of LG Polymers India Private Limited in Visakhapatnam has been neutralised and it will be completely gone in the next two days, authorities in Andhra Pradesh said on Friday, a day after 12 people died and over 800 fell sick following the tragedy.
Chemical disaster experts of the NDRF and NEERI had been flown in along with the consignment of PTBC and they visited the spot for assessing the situation.
The experts have said that all necessary measures like using added water are being taken to keep the temperature under control.
Industries Minister Goutham Reddy said it may take up to 48 hours to neutralise the rest of the gas. He also said that stern action would be taken against those found guilty for the accident after submission of an inquiry report.
Chief Secretary Neelam Sawhney, who is camping in the coastal city to monitor the operation, also exuded confidence that the operation to neutralize the remaining gas at the plant will be completed in 48 hours.
The top bureaucrat, who held a review meeting at the office of the District Collector, was told that the temperature in the storage tank is very high at present.
The spraying of water on the tank was continuing while experts from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other agencies were trying to neutralize the gas using PTBC, the antidote chemical specially brought from Gujarat by a cargo flight.
Currently, 454 people, who were exposed to the gas, are admitted to various hospitals. 10,000 people from five villages have been evacuated and sheltered in relief camps.
Hours after the styrene gas leak around 2.30 am on Thursday from the multinational L G Polymers Plant at R R Venkatapuram village, scores of people could be seen lying unconscious on sidewalks, near ditches and on the road, raising fears of a major industrial disaster.
Around 800 persons were initially rushed for treatment to various hospitals after complaining of breathing difficulties, and burning sensation in the eyes.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Andhra Pradesh Special Police (APSP) and nearby police had swung into action to rescue and shift people to safe places.
The plant makes polystyrene, a versatile plastic used in fiberglass, rubber and latex and for making toys and appliances among other things. Set up in 1961 as Hindustan Polymers, the company was taken over by South Korea’s LG Chem and renamed LG Polymers India in 1997.
Meanwhile, the government on Friday released Rs 30 crore towards extending financial assistance to the bereaved families and those taken ill.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, during his visit to Visakhapatnam on Thursday, had announced Rs 1 crore each to the families of the deceased.
As per the government Order, people who got primary medical aid will be paid Rs 25,000 each, Rs 1 lakh each to those hospitalised for 2 or 3 days, Rs 10 lakh each to those on ventilator support and Rs 10,000 each to all in the affected villages.
In the meantime, the Chief Minister on Friday said that the Pollution Control Board (PCB) should be strengthened and directed the officials to identify hazardous factories in densely populated areas in and around Visakhapatnam.
During a review meeting held through video conference, he asked the officials to prepare a comprehensive road map to ensure a safe city free of hazardous industries which should be located away from habitations.
In a related development, Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu demanded immediate closure of LG Polymers India. He said if necessary, the plant should be shifted to another location.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President found fault with the state government for registering a case against the company under what was termed as “less stringent provisions of law”.
He urged the government to ensure sincere investigations by the experts. He noted that the High Court, National Human Rights Commission, and the National Green Tribunal have taken suo motu cognizance of the incident.
Earlier today, Naidu wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking constitution of a scientific experts’ committee to inquire the Visakhapatnam gas leak incident.