Chemical disaster experts to reach Vizag to assess gas leak situation

Vizag chemical unit

New Delhi, May 7 A five-member team of experts in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) disaster is flying from Pune to the LG Polymers Industry in Visakhapatnam to assess the situation of the gas leak on Thursday in which several people have lost their lives and many have been left critically ill.

So far, 11 people have lost their lives and more than 25 are in critical condition. Medical specialists have also been mobilised to Visakhapatnam.

S.N. Pradhan, Director General of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), said that the incident happened at 2: 30 a.m. and the initial movement was made by the local administration, the police and the fire services.

“At around 5:30 a.m., the NDRF unit stationed in Vishakhapatnam was informed and our personnel immediately rushed to the spot. They helped in two ways – by neutralising the situation inside the LG Polymers factory and by evacuating the villagers living near the factory,” Pradhan said.

He also said that around 250 families were evacuated and door-to-door search was carried out. The NDRF team in action has experts to deal with chemical disaster and they went inside the factory premises to evacuate the workers wearing necessary protective gear.

“NDRF will stay back in the area till we are absolutely sure that the situation is under control. It will assist the local administration till it is required,” said Pradhan, stressing that the “situation is now under control”.

He also stated that an expert CBRN team would be flying from Pune to Vishakhapatnam. “The styrene that was leaking has been plugged. Now we are looking at rehabilitation of the people,” he said.

Member of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Kamal Kishore, said that about 1,000 people living in nearby areas of the factory have been exposed to the gas leak.

He explained that the gas that got leaked is called styrene, which is toxic and injurious to human health. “Several people have lost their lives and nearly 1,000 people living in close proximity to the plant were directly exposed to the gas. They have been evacuated and their medical treatment is going on,” Kishore said.

He also said that in the morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority and took stock of the situation on the ground.

He also said that a national crisis management committee meeting was chaired by the Cabinet secretary to design the specific steps needed to be taken to contain the effects of the gas leak and to ensure the safety of the people.

Taking about the medical problems the people are facing, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said, “It is a compound styrene which is an alkaline benzene. It can basically cause harm to humans by inhalation, ingestion and it has an effect on the eye. It also causes irritation in the throat which can lead to coughing besides leading to breathing difficulty.”

He, however, stressed that it will not have a long-term effect.

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