The Andhra Pradesh government has today informed that those evacuated from villages affected by the gas leak from a chemical plant in Visakhapatnam could not return till the impact of the chemical was neutralised.
Eleven people died and thousands have been affected after a styrene gas leakage from the LG Polymers plant in VIsakhapatnam. The plant has been fined Rs 50 crore by the National Green Tribunal over "failure to comply with statutory provisions."
Andhra Pradesh's Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy said he was expecting the impact of the gas to neutralise in 48 hours.
A specialised chemical called PTBC, made only in Vapi town of Gujarat, was sent to Visakhapatnam on an urgent basis to help in neutralising the effects of gas leak at the plant, a Gujarat government official was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
At least 15,000 people in five villages in the vicinity of the LG Polymers plant were evacuated and rehabilitated on a war-footing soon after the news of the gas leak was received, said the Deputy Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Alla Nani.
Environmentalists had earlier advised immediate evacuation of those living in close proximity to the LG Polymers factory, saying styrene is a highly toxic chemical and may have severe health impact - in the long and short run.
They also said that the mishap happened as the company ignored the protocol of conducting maintenance of the plant before resuming operations. Mr Reddy, however, clarified, that the incident occurred during a maintenance activity and that the production in the plant was on halt due to the nationwide lockdown.
Mr Reddy said the Andhra Pradesh government has now taken up the task of safety audit of 86 industries in the state.
554 victims were shifted to hospitals out of whom 128 have completely recovered. 305 people, including 52 infants, are being treated at Visakhapatnam's King George Hospital. 121 others are being treated at private hospitals and are out of danger. Nobody is on ventilator support. The government will provide complete medical support to all of them, said the Deputy Chief Minister.