At a high-level meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office, it was agreed that a clear protocol and checklist should be developed to ensure that there are no accidents of the type of that observed in Visakhapatnam where at least 11 people died and more than 800 hospitalized. Following a massive styrene leak at an LG Polymer plant that opened after 45 days, people with knowledge of the development told ET.
The Central Pollution Control Committee (CPCB) was tasked with immediately requesting all entities to conduct a thorough safety check of all their facilities and units before resuming their duties, they said.
Most of the country’s industry has been shut down since the end of March due to the Covid-19 outbreak and nationwide lockdown to contain its spread, and is just starting to reopen.
Central and state teams are now closely monitoring contamination data collected at the Visakhapatnam site in addition to doing a thorough analysis of what led to the leak, officials said.
Meanwhile, there are question marks over whether LG Polymer was operating with all required environmental clearances and whether it needed central government clearance or not.
Questions were also raised about how the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Committee allowed the unit to operate with increased capacity when two of the state’s main environmental bodies recommended that the proposal be previously discussed by the Union Environment Ministry – an issue formally raised by former EAS Finance Secretary Sarma with Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy.
Senior state government officials, however, told ET on condition of anonymity that permission from the National Pollution Control Board was sufficient for the polymer business to operate.
Although the Union Environment Ministry is still examining this issue closely, its prima facie assessment is that, since it is an old unit, it would not have needed the new mandate of environmental authorization.
âThe state government has let us know that the APPCB has agreed to it to operate as well,â a senior environment ministry official told ET. âSo our first assessment is that it was not operating in violation of environmental standards. However, we will also take a closer look at the matter now. ”