Forensic experts who landed at the Vizag gas leak site in Visakhapatnam said that the leakage occurred due to human error. The experts who probed the leak at LG Polymers said that the styrene gas leak happened due to human error and negligence during the coronavirus lockdown.
According to a report in The Times of India, a team of Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL) visited the site and gathered evidence in the last two days. The team was led by Dr RK Sarin and T Suresh.
The preliminary report stated that the cause of the leakage that led to the death of 11 people and hospitalisation of hundreds occured due to negligence in adding an auto polymerisation inhibitor in the styrene storage tank and failing to maintain the temperature below 20 degree centigrade. The experts told the daily that TBC or tertiary butyl catechol must be added with styrene to prevent self-polymerisation, which was not done during the lockdown period. The investigators stated that whatever TBC was left was rendered ineffective.
Once the self-polymerisation started, a chemical reaction followed shooting up the temperature to around 150 degree centigrade.
"The cooling process was also not maintained. This led to the generation of enormous heat. Vapours started coming out through the breather," a senior forensic official of APFSL told the daily. The official added that there should have been an operator sitting in the room to verify the process. He further stated that the day they visited the site, the temperature was around 120 degrees to 150 degrees centigrade in the storage tanks.
"The boiling point of styrene is 146 degree centigrade. During the lockdown period, they would not have maintained the storage tank properly," he mentioned to the daily.
Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Gautam Sawang said that they were also looking into the angle of human negligence.