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Vizag gas leak

  • IASbaba
  • May 8, 2020
  • 0
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GOVERNANCE/ HEALTH 

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in Health sectors 
  • Environmental pollution and degradation
  • Disaster Management (Laws, Acts etc.)

Vizag gas leak

Context: 

  • Recently, there was a leak of a toxic chemical, Styrene, near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. 
  • The source of the leak was a styrene plant owned by South Korean electronics giant LG.
  • It has killed several people and left thousands sick. 

What is styrene? 

  • Styrene is a flammable liquid 
  • It is used in the manufacturing of:
    • polystyrene plastics
    • fiberglass
    • rubber
    • latex. 
  • It is also found in:
    • vehicle exhaust
    • cigarette smoke
    • natural foods like fruits and vegetables.
  • Short-term exposure can result in:
    • respiratory problems
    • irritation in the eyes 
    • irritation in the mucous membrane 
    • gastrointestinal issues.
  • Long-term exposure can lead to :
    • central nervous system issues
    • peripheral neuropathy. 
    • cancer
    • depression
  • Symptoms:
    • headache
    • hearing loss
    • fatigue 
    • difficulty in concentrating. 
  • Styrene is included in the schedule of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989
  • Strict norms are to be followed while handling and storing the chemical.  

Cause of the leak

  • An inquiry is yet to be commissioned to know the exact cause of the leak. 
  • Faulty safety mechanisms or ignoring them are being cited as the causes of the leak. 

Way forward 

  • The Andhra Pradesh government must focus immediately on the medical needs of those grievously affected by the gas leak. 
  • Compensation for the victims and families.
  • Access to the highest quality of health care for the victims must be ensured. 
  • Safety of industrial chemicals must be on continuous watch, irrespective of any pandemic. 
  • The approach to public and occupational safety must be strengthened. 

Conclusion 

  • The gas leak tragedy is a reminder that safety is paramount when exiting the lockdown. 

Connecting the dots :

  • Industrial disasters are a result of lack of systemic accountability. 
  • Presence of Industrial unit in a residential area is a disaster waiting to happen. 

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