Vizag gas leak due to operational negligence, says NGT

Vizag gas leak due to operational negligence, says NGT; directs safety audit of pharma units

Two workers were killed and four hospitalised in June this year after benzimidazole gas leaked at the Sainor Life Sciences factory in the Parawada area in Visakhapatnam

Representative image: iStock photo

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday said that the gas leak at a pharma company unit in Andhra Pradesh was due to operational negligence and asked the state's Director of Industries to conduct a safety audit of the pharma city at Vishakhapatnam and other such locations.

The reason for benzimidazole gas leakage at Sainor Life Sciences factory at the Parawada industrial area was operational negligence of the management and its employees, the NGT Principal Bench headed by its Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.

"There were serious lapses in not following standard safety norms under the said rules requiring onsite and offsite emergency plans, conducting mock drills every six months and undertaking manufacture of Benzimidazole without consent," the bench said.

Two workers were killed and four hospitalised in June this year after Benzimidazole gas leaked at the Sainor Life Sciences factory in the Parawada area in Visakhapatnam.

The tribunal accepted the report filed by the Expert Committee and disposed of the proceedings with a direction to comply with the recommendations, including payment of environmental compensation, to be overseen by the statutory regulators.

The committee told the NGT that operational negligence, lack of standard operating procedure for transfer of material from one reactor to another and on the cleaning of reactors, lack of awareness of personnel, non-compliance of safety practices by employees were the causes of the incident.

The plea that benzimidazole was not the final product but for use in the manufacture of omeprazole did not justify doing so without consent, the bench observed.

The green panel agreed with the state pollution control board (SPCB) and the expert committee that separate consent is required for manufacturing Benzimidazole, being an independent compound.