Vizag gas leak brings back chilling memories of Bhopal tragedy
Visakhapatnam, May 07: It looks like the beginning of the year 2020 seems to be a tragic start for the people. With people suffering from coronavirus is on one side, scenes of several children being carried by parents in their arms and people laying on the roads as they inhaled the poisonous gas that took place in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam has gone viral on social media.
This tragic gas leak brings back a grim memory of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The leak of styrene, a chemical used to make synthetic rubber and resins, among others, occurred in the wee hours of Thursday while people were still fast asleep.
Women and children were seen lying on roads struggling to breathe, reminiscent of the infamous Bhopal Gas Tragedy when a leak from the Union Carbide plant left around 3,500 dead and many maimed. The worst-hit Gopalapatnam village reverberated with cries of people for help.
Many people fell unconscious during their sleep. Affected people, suffering writ large on their faces, were rushed to hospitals in autorickshaws and on two-wheelers. Visakhapatnam Collector Vinay Chand said 20 ambulances were pressed into service as soon information about the gas leak was received.
Exposure to styrene, also known as ethenylbenzene, vinylbenzene can affect the central nervous system (CNS), causing headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression. It is primarily used in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins.
The gas leak took place at LG Polymers chemical plant. LG Polymers was established in 1961 as "Hindustan Polymers" for manufacturing Polystyrene and its co-polymers at Visakhapatnam. It merged with McDowell and Co. Ltd of UB Group in 1978, according to the company's website.
Taken over by LG Chem (South Korea), Hindustan Polymers was renamed LG Polymers India Private Limited (LGPI) in July, 1997.