Visakhapatnam gas leak: LG Polymers’ Vizag plant produced stuff used to make disposable plastic cutlery

By: |
May 7, 2020 5:51 PM

The Vizag plant manufactures polystyrene (PS) that finds wide utility in the food-service industry as rigid trays and containers, disposable utensils, and foamed cups, plates and bowls.

The company, according to its website, was established in 1961 as 'Hindustan Polymers' by the Shriram Group for manufacturing PS and its co-polymers at Visakhapatnam.The company, according to its website, was established in 1961 as ‘Hindustan Polymers’ by the Shriram Group for manufacturing PS and its co-polymers at Visakhapatnam. (PTI Image)

LG Polymers India, the company behind the deadly styrene gas leak in Visakhapatnam that left at least nine dead and hundreds hospitalised, is a subsidiary of leading South Korean chemical firm LG Chem that had entered India in 1997 through the acquisition of a local company.

The Vizag plant manufactures polystyrene (PS) that finds wide utility in the food-service industry as rigid trays and containers, disposable utensils, and foamed cups, plates and bowls.

The company, according to its website, was established in 1961 as ‘Hindustan Polymers’ by the Shriram Group for manufacturing PS and its co-polymers at Visakhapatnam.

It got merged with MC Dowell & Co Ltd of UB Group in 1978.

Considering India as an important market for its aggressive global growth plans, LG Chem in July 1997 acquired Hindustan Polymers and renamed it as LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd (LGPI) in July 1997.

The factory recorded 222.8 billion won (USD 181.8 million) in revenue and 6.3 billion won in net profit last year.

In terms of sales, the parent company LG Chem was the 10th largest chemical company in the world in 2017.

LGPI’s Visakhapatnam factory was being prepared to reopen on Thursday after the lockdown when the accident took place. Company workers were preparing to restart the operation when the gas started to leak in the early hours.

As much as 1,800 tonnes of styrene is said to have been in the storage tank when the leakage happened. Due to stagnation and changes in temperature, styrene could have resulted in auto polymerisation that could have caused vapourisation.

Styrene gas is a flammable liquid that is used to make polystyrene plastics, fiberglass, rubber, and latex.

The accident at the Visakhapatnam factory raised questions on the improper maintenance of chemicals in the industry and reminded of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disasters.

“LG Chemical has a very strong presence in Styrenics business in South Korea and has plans to establish an equally strong presence in the Indian market by the current product range of PS and EPS,” the company says on its website. “Presently, LGPI is one of the leading manufacturers of polystyrene and expandable polystyrene in India. LGPI in true LG tradition is committed to excellence in product quality, service, and enriching customers through added value.”

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1Justice Department seeks immediate ban on WeChat in US
2IRDAI identifies LIC, GIC, New India Assurance systemically important insurers
3Vodafone wins retro tax fight against India; govt estimates Rs 75 cr liability