Responding to the Vizag gas leak incident on Thursday, Andhra Pradesh Industry minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy has said that after gas leakage was reported in the factory, lockdown procedure was initiated immediately by the state government. He explained that the first step was to neutralize the liquid that was used as a raw material in the factory - styrene monomer.
The Minister further said that onus lies on the company and investigation will be initiated on if they followed guidelines. On rescue operation, he said that the nearby villages have been evacuated and the state administration has chalked out a map on the effect of the gas.
Reiterating the advise given by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, he also asked people staying near the chemical plant to stay indoors and use a wet cloth to cover their nose and mouth.
Speaking to Republic TV, he said: "In our restart process of the industry, we started with the process of the opening of essential goods and subsequently non-essential goods and in the non-essential goods, we have differentiated it categorically. SOPs are to be followed in case of industries which are handling hazardous chemicals. Strict protocols laid out for them to restart. Today LG polymers initiated the restart. They found that one of the storage units in that raw material - styrene monomer - it converted itself into gas and evaporated through chimneys.
As soon as they got to know, they informed the civil authorities & initiation of lockdown taking place. The first thing we did was ask the factory to neutralize the liquid component. So they were able to neutralize the compound so that it does not convert into gas anymore. TIt basically became inert. Then we tried finding out how much gas had leaked and what vicinity of the area it can affect. One of the things we found that people who come in contact with the gas feel skin irritations and nauseousness. Since it was morning people who took the gas while sleeping was unconscious. Extended exposure would have resulted in death. Typically in such Asphyxiation, younger children are more affected. It's very sad and I extend my condolences to the families."
At the time of publishing, 8 people have been killed and nearly 70 hospitalised after a gas leak at a chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam in the wee hours of Thursday, officials said. People in Gopalapatnam area, where the chemical plant is located, complained of irritation in eyes, breathlessness, nausea and rashes on their bodies.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have rushed to the spot. Speaking to Republic, the CP, RK Meena, said that the gas leak has been contained.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy enquired about the incident and directed the Visakhapatnam district collector to ensure proper medical care for the affected people. He is on his way to Vizag.