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(2nd LD) LG Chem launches probe into gas leak at Indian plant

All News 17:47 May 07, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details and background in paras 1, 7-8, 11; ADDS photo and graphics; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, May 7 (Yonhap) -- LG Chem Ltd., South Korea's leading chemical firm, said Thursday it has launched an internal probe to try to find the exact cause of a deadly gas leak at its plant in India, as an Indian official warned of taking criminal action.

This AFP photo shows people gathering in front of the LG Polymers chemical plant in Visakhapatnam in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on May 7, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

LG Chem said the gas leak has been brought under control and that the company is taking all steps to ensure affected people can swiftly receive medical treatment.

Indian media reported that the gas leak at the LG Polymers chemical plant in Visakhapatnam in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh killed at least 10 people and sickened thousands of villagers.

The Indian Express said many fell unconscious on roads and hundreds of people who were unconscious or experiencing breathing difficulties were brought to King George Hospital.

The accident took place early Thursday when workers were preparing to reopen the plant after the lockdown imposed over the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian Express reported, citing Andhra Pradesh Commerce Minister M Goutham Reddy.

(2nd LD) LG Chem launches probe into gas leak at Indian plant - 2

"Our initial information is that workers were checking a gas storage tank when it started leaking," Reddy was quoted as saying.

Reddy said LG Chem has to be responsible for the gas leak mishap and explain which protocols were followed and which were not followed.

"Accordingly, criminal action will be taken against them," he said in comments posted on the website of the Times of India.

The Hindu, an Indian English-language newspaper, said there was a leak of styrene gas from the plant.

Styrene is primarily used in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins. Short-term exposure to styrene results in mucous membrane and eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The LG Polymers plant, which LG Chem acquired from Hindustan Polymers in 1996, produces a wide-range of polystyrene, including engineering plastic, an industrial raw material for automobiles and electronic parts.

entropy@yna.co.kr
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