Before blaming the workers, think about the accountability of authorities
The country woke up to a shocking news on Thursday of gas leaking from a chemical factory in the outskirts of Vishakhapatnam. The incident claimed 11 lives and left many fighting for life amid the chaos of Coronavirus.
The incident’s cause and the reaction of management and state seems disturbingly similar to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy that occurred in 1984. This indicates that administrations have not learnt from the earlier chemical disaster. Corporations and administrations continue to deploy non-scientific, untruths and empty reassurances to underplay the disastrous incident and its systematic causes.
What we know about Vizag gas leak so far?
The LG Polymer’s plant was in the process of restarting operations after being shut for 40 days due to COVID-19 lockdown. The company said that the styrene liquid stayed stored for a long time. In the process of restarting the operations, a chemical reaction of autopolymerisation increased the pressure on the valve and caused the burst.
The incident has raised serious questions around plant maintenance during the coronavirus lockdown. The situation calls for a review of the practices and efforts being followed by the companies and the government.
LG Polymers has claimed that they were handling the maintenance during the lockdown. The government has issued 50 passes to the chemical plant to maintain the operations at the plant. Preliminary investigations seem to suggest that there has been negligence in handling the valve control properly.
What should we learn from Vizag gas leak?
Surveillance and maintenance of these types of plants which have hazardous gas should be done properly and regularly. The government should ensure that passes are provided for maintenance. The government should also be vigilant if the companies are following the maintenance process.
The gas which caused the devastation was styrene. It is stored in factories as a liquid at a temperature under 20 degree Celsius or it evaporates easily. It is important that when such plants are being re-opened, all the precautions and measures are being taken.
The biggest thing we should learn from the incident is that establishment of the factories which contain hazardous gas and possess a risk for people staying nearby, should be away from the public residence. If we have not leant from the Chernobyl disaster which claimed 30 lives and Bhopal Gas Tragedy (3,787 deaths) then let’s learn now, and establish these factories far away from the colonies, villages and cities.
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