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Villagers demand closure of LG Polymers plant in India


Residents protest in front of LG Polymers company demanding justice to the gas leak victims, in Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh state on May 9, 2020. Engineers battled on May 8 to prevent more toxic gas escaping at a chemical plant on India's east coast, a day after a pre-dawn leak killed 12 people and knocked locals unconscious in the street. (Photo by STR / AFP)
Residents protest in front of LG Polymers company demanding justice to the gas leak victims, in Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh state on May 9, 2020. Engineers battled on May 8 to prevent more toxic gas escaping at a chemical plant on India's east coast, a day after a pre-dawn leak killed 12 people and knocked locals unconscious in the street. (Photo by STR / AFP)

RESIDENTS near the LG Polymers plant at RR Venkatapuram village, Visakhapatnam in Southern India have staged a protest on Saturday (9) demanding immediate closure of the plant. High tension prevailed at the plant following the protest.

The protesters placed two bodies of the dead in front of the factory main gate as part of the agitation while some youths barged into the plant even as state director general of police D G Sawang was inspecting the vapour leak spot and talking to the management on the measures taken to restore normalcy.

A styrene vapour leak from the plastics manufacturing plant caused the death of 12 persons on May 7.

The bodies were brought to the village for cremation on Saturday from the KGH mortuary after post-mortem. The angry villagers, however, stopped the ambulances in front of the plant gate and laid the bodies on the road.

Hundreds of villagers, who were provided shelter in Visakhapatnam after the vapour leak, returned to the village on Saturday morning, raising slogans against the factory management and demanding its closure.

The police posted near the plant for security duty tried to prevent the villagers from going near the plant but the latter broke the security cordon and staged a sit-in protest near the factory gate. Police initially took some of the protesters into custody and whisked them away but scores of others entered the scene subsequently.

At one point, many of the villagers barged into the plant through a small entrance gate and one woman was seen falling on the DGP’s feet and pleading that the unit be closed forthwith, reports said.

South Korea’s top petrochemical maker by capacity, LG Chem acquired the plant in 1997 and established LG Polymers India Private Limited (LGPI), according to a company website.

The LG Polymers plant makes polystyrene products which are used in manufacturing electric fan blades, cups and cutlery and containers for cosmetic products such as make up.

The raw material, styrene, is highly flammable and releases a poisonous gas when burnt.