Order of the National Green Tribunal on gas leak at LG Polymers chemical plant in RR Venkatapuram village, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, 08/05/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of In re: Gas Leak at LG Polymers Chemical Plant in RR Venkatapuram Village Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh dated 08/05/2020 regarding leakage of hazardous gas, Styrene from a chemical factory owned by the South Korean company LG Polymers India Pvt., Limited in R.R. Venkatpuram village, Pendurthy Mandal, Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh resulting in deaths and hospitalization of people. There is also damage to environment and habitat.

Styrene gas is a hazardous chemical as defined under Rule 2(e) read with Entry 583 of Schedule I to the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989. The Rules require on-site and off-site Emergency Plans to ensure prevention of damage. There appears to be failure to comply with the said Rules and other statutory provisions. Leakage of hazardous gas at such a scale adversely affecting public health and environment, clearly attracts the principle of ‘Strict Liability’ against the enterprise engaged in hazardous or inherently dangerous industry.

Such an entity is liable to restore the damage caused under the Environment Law, apart from other statutory liability. The statutory authorities responsible for authorizing and regulating such activities may also be accountable for their lapses, if any, in dealing with the matter. It is also necessary to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to prevent recurrence of such an incident.

The NGT issues notice to Andhra Pradesh State PCB, District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and LG Polymers India Pvt., Limited.

The tribunal also sought a report from a 5-member Committee. The Committee has to visit and inspect the site at the earliest and give its report before the next date on the following aspects:

a. The sequence of events

b. Causes of failure and persons and authorities responsible therefor

c. Extent of damage to life, human and non-human; public health; and environment – including, water, soil, air

d. Steps to be taken for compensation of victims and restitution of the damaged property and environment, and the cost involved

e. Remedial measures to prevent recurrence

f. Any other incidental or allied issues found relevant.

LG Polymers India Pvt., Limited has been directed to deposit an initial amount of Rs. 50 Crore, with the District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam for the “extent of damage to life, public health and environment.”