ANROEV statement on LG's toxic and carcinogenic gas leak in India
LG Chem’s LG Polymers India Factory Leakage of Carcinogenic Substance Related Asian Civil Society Statement
‘Repeated accident is a crime and another death at work and community is a murder’
LG should set an example for the global standard in accident by taking lessons from Bhopal disaster
We cannot forget the tragedy of the December 3, 1984, the most devastating environmental and industrial accident in the world's history, in which toxic chemicals (MICs, isocyanide methyl) leaked from a U.S. pesticide manufacturing plant, Union Carbide Corporation(presently The Dow Chem Company) in Bhopal, central India, exposed 500,000 people to the material and 2,250 people died. According to an Indian government report submitted in 2006, total of 558,125 local residents, including 38,478 ordinary people and 3,900 severely disabled people, were affected by the gas leak at the time,
Afterwards, a number of civil and criminal trials were followed in the United States and India. Still, the companies and officials who caused the accident were not criminally punished, the victims were not properly compensated and the area where the accident occurred was left contaminated. The victims have been suffering for the past 35 years without knowing how much more they will suffer.
Another tragedy occurred around 3 a.m. on May 7, 2020, when the villages were asleep, the styrene gas leaked from the LG Polymers Indian plant of South Korean company LG Chem. The plant is located in the southern Indian province of Visakapatnam, where 12 local residents have died so far, and thousands have been taken to hospitals, fearing that there will be more casualties in the future.
Styrene is a benzene derivatives and colorless planetary liquid that causes itching of the skin, eyes and irritation of the upper respiratory tract. It is a carcinogen classified as Group 2A(probable carcenogen) in 2019 since it is the material that can cause cancer such as Leukemia by the International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC) under the World Health Organization.
According to The Guardian, suspicions have also been raised that the plant was operated illegally without receiving environmental clearance until last year. India has been demanding to receive environmental clearance after conducting impact assessments and pollution-related research, consultation with local communities and investigation into the possibility of environmental pollution before operating factories and others since 2006, and if not abided it can be a crime.
The tragedy of LG Chem's gas leak disaster should no longer be repeated. Victims should be immediately and fully compensated. People who are responsible should make sincere efforts to ensure that survivors are fully treated and rehabilitated. An investigation of disasters and an acute and chronic health impact survey of all those exposed should be conducted immediately without delay. After the site closure, field investigation should be carried out with the participation of community and victim representatives to ensure the safety of the workplace. Fundamental safety systems and strong regulations should be in place to prevent similar accidents from happening again.
At the same time of overcoming the double tragedy of the hazardous gas leak and COVID-19 pandemic, the victims of the LG plants are struggling for jobs, safe workplaces and the environment. Members of the Asian Network for Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims(ANROEV) will remember the dead victim and fight for the living.
LG should consider the latest gas leak at its Indian plant as the incident occurred in South Korea and follow out the measures to deal with casualties of Indian residents and pollution solution in areas around the Indian plant. That is what LG considers as a global standard. This is the lesson left by U.S. company Union Carbide Corporation by the Bhopal disaster and the lesson left by British company Reckitt Benckiser in the humidifier disinfectant disaster.
ANROEV is an association of more than 100 victims' organizations, trade unions, environmental and labor organizations, and medical and legal experts from more than 20 countries across Asia to improve the health and safety of workplaces and communities and enhance the rights of victims over the past two decades. At the annual general meeting in Seoul in October 2019, ANROEV shed light on the problem of ’Repeated accident is a crime and another death at work and community is a murder.’
- Provide rescue and support to the families of the dead and wounded.
- Support long-term health support for the victims and those exposed to gas.
- Investigate thoroughly and fairly the cause of the gas leak.
- Allow local civil society and victim representatives to take part of the investigation.
- Take strict responsibility for LG Chem headquarters and related managers.
- Carry out the site safety check before resuming work after the closure related to COVID-19.
- Prepare fundamental measures for workplace safety system and local community safety.
2020. 5. 13.
Asian Network for the Right of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV)
- South Korea:
n Asian Citizen's Center for Environment and Health Lee Sung Jin 010-4719-7181
n Korean Transnational Corporation Watch Hyun Phil Na 010-5574-8925
n Korean Chemical & Textile Workers' Federation Hyun Jae Soon 010-2287-4748
- India: Jagdish Patel, Peoples Training and Research Centre, India / WhatsApp (+91 94264 86855)
Signatory from Organizations:
- Cividep, India
- Peoples Training and Research Centre, India
- Occupational and Environment Health Network India
- Environics Trust, India
- Worker's Initiative –Kolkata, India
- India Ban Asbestos Network (IBAN)
- Asian Citizen's Center for Environment and Health ,Korea
- Korean Confederation for Trade Unions
- Korean Federation for Environmental Movements
- Seoul National University School of Public Health Studies of Occupational and Environmental Health
- Ban Asbestos Network Korea
- Korean Transnational Corporation Watch
- Korean Chemical & Textile Workers' Federation
- Action for Carcinogen-free Korea
- Center for Worker's Health and Safety
- SHARPS (Supporters for Health And Rights of People in Semiconductor industry)
- Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims (ARIAV), Hong Kong
- OSH Link, Taiwan
- CEPHED, Nepal
- Hesperian Health Guides, USA
- Peoples Health Movement-USA
- International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT)
- Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS), Indonesia
- Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE)
- Worker Empowerment, Hong Kong
- Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan
- Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong
Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan, India
Affiliated with BWI
Environics Trust, India
Prof. PAEK Domyung
Seoul National University, School of Public Health
Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center (JOSHRC)
Nadia De Leon
Insitute for Occupational Health and Safety Development, Philippines
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