Railways to review norms for transporting dangerous goods

In the aftermath of Styrene Vapour leak that killed 12 people in Vizag

The Ministry of Railways will review its Standard Operating Procedure on the conveyance of dangerous goods on the basis of recommendations made by the High Power Committee (HPC) that investigated the gas (Styrene Vapor) leak incident at M/s LG Polymers Limited, Visakhapatnam, on the intervening night of 6th & 7th May 2020 which left 12 people dead and hundreds of others hospitalized.

Acting on an advisory from the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, the Railway Board has written to all Zonal Railways on March 24, 2021, to take necessary action on the technical and administrative/regulatory recommendation made by the HPC.

In his letter to the Ministry of Railways, Naresh Pal Gangwar, Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC, said that after the nationwide lockdown was lifted there were incidents of chemical (industrial) accidents in every nook and corner of the country. The accidents not only resulted in the damage to property/industrial infrastructure but also led to loss of previous lives/major injuries to workers leaving them with permanent disability.

Referring to the gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam which had an impact on population over a radius of 3 km, he said that the State of Andhra Pradesh had constituted the HPC comprising experts from central agencies like the Central Pollution Control Board, Central Institute of Petroleum Engineering & Technology, Andhra University, Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organisation etc., apart from senior State Government functionaries to find out the root cause and tackle such kind of situations in future.

After arriving at the root cause of the incident, HPC made certain recommendations to be followed by chemical industries dealing with hazardous chemicals in general and Styrene, in particular. The MoEF&CC, being the nodal agency for handling matters relating to chemical disasters, referred the technical recommendations to the ‘Central Crisis Group’. It was decided to circulate the recommendations along with the updated ‘Crisis Alert System’ to the departments concerned for implementation.

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