The high-power committee which probed into the styrene leak incident at the LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam, in its report, has said that the industries dealing with hazardous chemicals must maintain buffer zones and the areas should not be used for any other purpose.

If the technical suggestions made by the panel for such industries located close to residential areas are to be implemented in toto, sources say many units including several PSUs need to do think about relocation.

The 400-page report submitted by the panel to the government recently has not only highlighted the lapses that caused the styrene monomer leak at the LG Polymers, but also recommended a slew of measures for the hazardous industries and the regulatory bodies to prevent such accidents.

“All the industries dealing with hazardous chemicals and those operating in the vicinity of residential areas should maintain buffer zones surrounding their units with fail. And these zones must not be used for any other purpose,” the HPC lead by Neerabh Kumar Prasad, Special Chief Secretary to Government of A.P., said in the report.

The report clearly mentioned that residential areas had mushroomed near the LG Polymers in the last two decades and permissions were accorded to more than 50 layouts in the vicinity of the plant, in violation of the buffer zone norms.

The panel, in its report, said that of the 265 industries— 75 categorised as red, 85 orange and 105 green—operating in the limits of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), 15 were ‘hazardous’ units.

Storing of chemicals

The panel has recommended that hazardous industries located close to residential areas should not store chemicals in tanks beyond 500 KL capacity on the plant premises. The chemicals should be stored in bulk only in the locations away from habitations.

Sources say that these recommendations, if implemented, could impact bigger companies such as Coromandel Fertilisers and PSU such as HPCL, in Visakhapatnam.

The report has insisted on constant monitoring of onsite and offsite emergency plans, regular mock drills and supervision on the emission of gases by regulatory authorities such as Inspector of Factories, pollution control boards in the State and at the Centre.

Plans for emergency

It has suggested installation of adequate number of sensors matching the OSHA standards in plants to detect the release of hazardous gases. “Sensor activation should alert the officials of local police stations, nearest fire station, SDRF cell at the Collectorate, the Inspector of Factories and APPCB,” said Mr. Neerabh Kumar. Speaking to The Hindu, N. Kalidas of the Institute for Solid Waste Research & Ecological Balance (INSWAREB), said it was time the suggestions made by the HPC were implemented in toto.

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