ANROEV PRESS RELEASE on LG Chemical Personnel Run Away from India

June 30, 2020 in SlideShow, Top News

For Immediate Release

Attn: News, Business, Science, Health Editors

28 June 2020

Contact:           Jagdish Patel (India), +91 9426486855 jagdish.jb@gmail.com

 

LG Chemical Personnel Run Away from India As Government Investigation Reports Identify Safety Failures

 Korean personnel’s mission clashes with community realities

(Visakhapatnam, India): Three Korean LG personnel whose passports were confiscated due to their importance in the investigation of the company’s deadly styrene gas release, have fled India after getting a favorable court judgement. Community members and Indian occupational and environmental safety activists affiliated with the ANROEV network condemned the decision noting that once LG Chemical personnel leave India, they will likely avoid responsibility and not return, as has happened in other cases, including Bhopal.

Korean personnel fled India following a critical report by India’s National Green Tribunal and just before an investigative report emerges from the Andhra Pradesh State Government, which objected to calling the tragedy an accident noting that, “We all know it was not an accident. The styrene leak was a result of a series of safety failures.”

LG Chemical sent the Korean team to Visakhapatnam, India in mid-May to investigate the cause of the styrene release and support, “responsible rehabilitation.” In contrast, LG has pursued a vigorous effort to avoid investigation of its safety failures and to evade any payment of compensation for the tragedy that it caused.

Here are some examples of LG actions in India following its deadly styrene leak:

  1. LG hired the former Attorney General of India to petition the Supreme Court in an effort to remove the National Green Tribunal from investigating the tragedy.
  1. LG tried to stop disbursement of an interim fine of of ₹50 crore (~US$6.6 million, ~₩8.1 billion) for compensation and restoration.
  1. More than one month after the tragedy, LG still had not responded to questions from a State investigative committee.
  2. LG also claimed in Korean media to be disbursing food to local residents. However, the State Government already was distributing food to migrant workers struggling with the COVID-19 lockdown. Community residents received food from the State-managed food supply, not LG.
  3. LG claimed that Suraksha Hospital would “take care of all residents’ health check-ups and future treatment.” However, the experience of community residents is that while the first visit was free, all subsequent treatment for LG’s styrene gas release had to be paid by the victims.

In summary, Korean LG personnel were essentially invisible in the affected community and did not resolve any key community issues. LG’s Korean personnel did not declare long-term measures to monitor the environmental and health impacts of their company’s pollution. Instead, they ran away from the country on a chartered flight as government investigations started closing in.

Community members and public interest advocates call on LG to act more like a responsible corporate leader. Absolute liability should be applied to both LG Chemical and LG Polymers, including accountability for deaths, injuries, crop damage, and environmental pollution, among others. Long-term health surveillance and support should be provided to the community and be paid for by the company. Finally, there should be a thorough and impartial investigation of the tragedy and civil society and victims’ representatives should be part of the investigation and any settlement with the company.

LG Polymers uses styrene to make polystyrene plastic components for LG appliances sold in India. Styrene is a probable human carcinogen, crosses the placenta and has a variety of harmful effects. Styrene is explosive and must be stored at low temperatures. However, LG failed to maintain the storage temperature below 20C during a COVID-19 lockdown period, leading to the harmful release.

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Reporters and editors please contact:

Jagdish Patel (India), +91 9426486855 jagdish.jb@gmail.com