Vizag gas leak: NGT slaps interim penalty of Rs 50 crore on LG Polymers

In the first case of penal action against LG Polymers, after the Vizag gas leak, the National Green Tribunal has taken suo moto cognizance and directed LG Polymers to deposit Rs 50 crore with the district magistrate of Vishakhapatnam.

NGT action follows a lethal Styrene gas leak, at LG Polymers’ Vizag facility, at 03.45 am on May 7, which caused the death of 11 people, with over a 1,000 reported being sick.

NGT order records that the use and storage of the hazardous styrene gas are regulated and governed by Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules of 1989. The rules provide for safety protocols and emergency measures. NGT noted in its order that there seems to have been a failure to comply with the safety rules and standards.

Taking aim at LG Polymers, the NGT order observes that leakage of such hazardous gas, which affected public health and environment, will attract the principle of ‘strict liability’.

The NGT order states, “Such an entity is liable to restore the damage caused under the Environment Law, apart from other statutory liability.”

Not just LG Polymers, the NGT order also warned that the statutory agencies responsible for allowing and regulating the use of the gas may also be in need of being held accountable.

The NGT has also constituted a fact-finding 5-member mission under former AP HC Judge, Justice B. Seshasayana Reddy. The mission has been tasked with identifying the causes of failure and the persons and authorities responsible for the leak.

The mandate of the panel also includes estimating the damage to life, public health, environment and the likely cost for compensation of victims and restitution of the damage caused.

The panel has been asked to submit its report before the next hearing scheduled for May 18.

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