Experts seek thorough study on water bodies near LG Polymers

Water bodies in five villages surrounding the LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam have been contaminated due to the accidental release of styrene gas on Friday, which killed 12 people.

Experts have said there is a need to do a scientific study on the implications of the gas leak on living conditions in the neighbourhood of the plant. The gas leak has polluted water bodies in five surrounding habitations: Narava, BC Colony, Bapuji Nagar, Kampalapalem and Krishna Nagar.

As per Greater Vizag Municipal Corporation (GVMC) officials, water samples will be collected from these water bodies and sent to laboratories to test. the results are expected back by Monday. However, experts wanted APPCB staff to do the tests as they have better testing facilities.  

Toxic chemicals released from the LG Polymers may also make their way to the sea, causing marine pollution and loss of marine life. "Here is an  opportunity for researchers to generate information from this accident. But there is no such effort. It is due to the total absence of a safety culture in this country," said Dr Babu Rao Kalapala, a former scientist from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT).

He said the accident on Friday was preventable. “The styrene accident was a failure to inspect and enforce safety on the part of the government authorities and sheer negligence and incompetence on the part of LG Polymers. No amount of financial compensation can exonerate those responsible for the crime.”

“Despite the opacity at the government level, it is evident that a failure to properly manage storage of styrene led to this accident. It is well known that styrene has a tendency to self polymerise at temperatures above 20 degrees C. There are storage standards in Europe and other countries that must be adhered to. There is none in India. Companies have to follow the standards in their own interest but in this case LG Polymers failed,” he added.

After the accident, GVMC stopped water supply from the Meghadrigedda reservoir (MGR) nearby in order to prevent any implications for public health. The GVMC commissioner G Srijana said, “Once the report confirms that the water is safe, again we will resume the water supply.”

She said that water supply to Visakhapatnam will not be majorly affected by the suspension of supply from the MGR water. The city mainly depends on the Yeleru and Raiwada reservoirs. The portion of water supplied from Meghadrigedda is very less when compared to other water sources.

Around 6-7 million gallons a day domestic water is supplied from MGR to a few wards in areas like Malkapuram and Sriharipuram, while 2 million gallons a day is given to industries.

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