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    PRESS RELEASE on LG Polymer Gas Leak press conference

    May 17, 2020 in Top News

    For Immediate Release

    Attn: News, Business, Science, Health Editors

    15 May 2020

    Contact:           Ram Charitra Sah, ANROEV, Coordinator , +977-9803047621

     

    Affected community members and public interest advocates call on LG Chemical to take full responsibility for the Vizag tragedy

     

    (Vizag, India): Community members affected by the poisonous Vizag gas leak and public interest advocates from India and South Korea called on LG Chemicals, the South Korean parent company of LG Polymers, to take full responsibility for the poisonous styrene gas leak early in the morning on 7 May that killed 12 and sickened hundreds of community members. The tragedy occurred in Vizag, Visakhapatnam in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. LG Polymers has been operating illegally and a government forensic laboratory has concluded that the styrene leak occurred due to company error. On 8 May, the National Green Tribunal directed LG Polymers to deposit an interim fine of ₹50 crore (~US$6.6 million) and formed a committee to investigate the tragedy.

     

    Community members, local doctors, and Indian occupational and environmental safety activists affiliated with the ANROEV network discussed the challenges faced by the community after the gas leak. They described how the people from communities surrounding the LG Polymer plant are experiencing a combination of fear and anger, and demanding support for all those affected by the poisonous gas leak.

     

    They also noted concerns about repeating injustices that occurred after the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 when thousands were killed and more than 500,000 people were exposed to poisonous methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, but Union Carbide and Dow Chemical were never fully held accountable. The UN Special Rapporteur for Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, noted the parallels between the Vizag LG tragedy and the Bhopal disaster and urged Indian and South Korea authorities and implicated businesses, “to avoid the same mistakes and abuse of judicial procedures that have denied justice to the victims of the Bhopal disaster, who are still suffering to this day.”

     

    Community members and public interest advocates called on LG and relevant government agencies to take the following actions:

     

    • Immediately provide relief and support to victim families and those injured
    • Long-term health support for all the victims and exposed population
    • Thorough and impartial investigation on the reason for the gas leak
    • Include civil society and victims representatives to take part in the investigation and any settlement with the company
    • Hold LG Chemicals and those responsible for the gas leak fully accountable
    • Establish a bio-monitoring system for 3 years to provide health surveillance for all those affected
    • Due diligence before re-opening workplaces under COVID-19 lockdowns
      Strengthen regulatory and workplace safety systems

     

     

    LG Chemicals has a history of environmental and health and safety violations in South Korea:

     

    2019: The Ministry of Environment caught LG Chemical altering and even fabricating pollution release data.

    2018: LG Chemical polycarbonate factory leaked phosgene gas, injuring five workers

    2015: LG Chemical fined 6 million won for leaking hydrogen chloride and violating the Industrial Safety and Health Act

    2013: LG Chemical executives sent to prison over the 2012 explosion at their Cheongju OLED manufacturing plant. The judge noted that the company pursued profits over safety.

    2013: In a government review of occupational accidents, LG Chemical’s Cheongju Plant was noted as a workplace with many deaths, including a 2012 explosion that killed eight workers.

     

    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 Ram Charitra Sah at the ANROEV Secretariat anroev@gmail.com.  Video footage and photos are available.

    News Coverage on ANROEV Press Conference

    https://m.news.naver.com/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=102&oid=056&aid=0010836164

    https://m.news.naver.com/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=102&oid=056&aid=0010835930

    http://www.eco-health.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=sub02_03&wr_id=987

    http://www.eco-health.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=sub02_03&wr_id=988

    https://www.setoghar.com/archives/61565 (from Nepal in english)

    http://www.lokpath.com/story/255426  (from Nepal in Nepali)

    https://www.khabarhub.com/2020/17/165543/ (from Nepal in Nepali)

    ANROEV Statement on LG Polymers Gas Leak

    May 8, 2020 in Top News

    ANROEV STATEMENT ON LG POLYMERS FACTORY GAS LEAK TRAGEDY IN INDIA
    ANOTHER GAS LEAK TRAGEDY IN INDIA WITHOUT PROSECUTION OF EARLIER CULPRITs
    We have not forgotten Bhopal gas tragedy of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leak incident on the
    early morning of 3rd December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in
    Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, one of the world’s worst industrial disaster resulting over
    500,000 people exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and official immediate death toll was
    2,259. A government affidavit in 2006 stated that the leak caused 558,125 injuries, including
    38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling
    injuries.
    Following several Civil and Criminal Courts in US and back home in Indian multiple courts on
    multiple occasion. Still the culprit company and Officials were not prosecuted, victims were not
    well compensated and sites still remains contaminated. People are still suffering since 35 years
    with unknown period of yet to be suffered.
    Yet another tragedy occurred on the 7th of May, when styrene leaked from the Korean-owned
    LG Polymers plant during the early hours of Thursday, 7th May 2020, when families in the
    surrounding villages were asleep. This chemical factory located into the village called Vizag,
    Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh in southern India has killed at least ten people and led to
    thousands being taken to hospital, amid fears that the death toll could climb higher.
    Styrene is derivative of benzene and is a colorless oily liquid. Health effects of styrene include
    irritation of the skin, eyes, and the upper respiratory tract. Long exposure can also lead to
    cancer. Styrene is Group 2A Carcinogen by IARC under the WHO.
    These kind of repeated tragedies should be stopped due to negligence of the LG Chemicals, and
    victims should be immediately and fully compensated and survivor should be fully treated and
    rehabilitated with due diligence. Investigation of the disaster and bio-monitoring of all those
    exposed should be immediately done without any further due. Due diligence must be
    implemented to ensure workplaces are safe after the lock down measures. There must be
    stronger regulatory and workplace safety systems in place.

    If the exposure leads to chronic health conditions, such as kidney, liver failures or airway hypersensitivities. But I suspect, the more important issue will be the social and medical necessities that will make the social distancing difficult for those residents who are affected.
    As we continue to grapple of double tragedy of Gas Leak and ongoing COVID pandemic, as we
    continue to fight for a decent work, safe workplace and environment. We, members of the
    Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) will
    continue to “Remember the Dead, and Fight for the Living”.
    The Asian Network for the Rights Of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV)
    formerly known as the Asian Network for Rights of Occupational and Accident Victims
    (ANROAV) is a coalition of victims’ groups, trade unions and other labour groups across Asia, all
    committed to the rights of Victims and for overall improvement of health and safety at the
    workplace.

    Our demands:
    – Immediately provide relief and support to victims family and those injured
    – Long-term health support for all the victims and exposed population
    – Thorough and impartial investigation on the reason for the gas leak
    – Allow and include Civil Society and Victims representatives to take part in the investigation
    – Hold LG Chemicals and those responsible for the gas leak accountable
    – Due Diligence before re-opening workplaces under COVID-19 lockdowns
    – Strengthen regulatory and workplace safety systems
    May 8, 2020
    Contact: Jagdish Patel, Peoples Training and Research Centre, India / WhatsApp (+91 94264 86855)

    Signatories:
    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 (환경보건시민센터), Korea
    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

    Working Peoples Party- Indonesia

    Globalisation Monitor

    Society for Occupational Health, Environmental Safety & Social Security (SOHES), Chennai

    Tamilnadu Rural Labour Movement-Central Trade Union

    Jeevan Trust/ Erode

    European Work Hazards Network

    Scottish Hazards and Stichting Netwerk, the Netherlands.

     

    Individuals
    Vipul Pandya
    General Secretary
    Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan, India
    Affiliated with BWI
    Sanjiv Pandita
    Solidar Suisse
    Mohit Gupta
    Environics Trust, India
    Omana George
    Prof. PAEK Domyung
    Seoul National University, School of Public Health
    Sugio FURUYA
    Secretary General
    Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center (JOSHRC)
    Nadia De Leon
    Insitute for Occupational Health and Safety Development, Philippines
    Thomas H Gassert MD
    Harvard Chan School of Public Health, Boston USA

    Alec Farquhar, Coordinator, Asbestos Free Canada

    ANROEV STATEMENT ON IWMD 2020

    April 28, 2020 in Top News

    Let us all close our eyes and offer a moment of thoughts and prayers to all those who are no longer with us because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Those who have left us: our sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, daughters and sons, friends and colleagues faced life head on, with zealous love for the future, for a world without danger to us and the environment.

    Their commitment to life and love have sustained them throughout the fight against COVID-19. They may have breath their last, but the lives they lived, and the fights they fought, are forever imprinted in our hearts and minds.

    As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, as we continue to fight for a decent work, safe workplace and environment, we hold to our beacon and as the workers of the world commemorate International Workers Memorial Day, we, members of the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) will continue to “Remember the Dead, and Fight for the Living”

     In remembrance of all known and unknown COVID 19 warriors around the globe.

     ANROEV Secretariat

    DR. ROMEO GREGORIO MACASAET III
    DR. MARY GRACE LIM
    DR. HECTOR ALVAREZ
    DR. ISRAEL BACTOL
    DR. MARCELLANO CRUZ
    DR. JANETTE DANCEL LIBAN
    DR. HENRY FERNANDEZ
    DR.  SALVACION RODRIQUEZ GATCHALIAN
    DR. MARCELO JAOCHICO
    DR. RAUL DIAZ JARA
    DR. FRANCISCO AVELINO SIY LUKBAN
    Nurse ARVIN PASCUAL
    DR. ROSALINDA PULIDO
    DR.  HELEN TUDTUD
    DR. DENNIS RAMOS TUDTUD
    DR. DINO EZRAH HAILIL
    DR. LEANDRO RESURRECCION III
    DR. ROBERTO ANASTACIO
    DR. RONALDO MATEO
    Nurse FAYE MARIE LUNA PALAFOX
    DR. GERARD FABIAN GOCO
    DR. EPHRAIM NEAL ORTEZA
    Nurse MANNY PACHECO
    DR. CENOVER NICANDRO BAUTISTA
    Nurse JENNYLIN  CABARUBBIAS
    DR. WILBUR DEMAFILES
    DR. MA. TERESA BALLAT DAJAO
    ** Initial list of health workers that we gathered from news articles who served in the medical front-lines during this pandemic and died saving the lives of others.

    ANROEV Statement for International Workers’ Memorial Day 2019

    April 29, 2019 in Top News

    28 April a day of remembrance for workers who were killed, injured or disabled due to lack of proper health and safety at work. Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace incidents and ill health and to promote campaigns for the fight of improvements in workplace safety. The basic slogan for the day is remembering the deadfight for the living.

    According to recent report of the ILO, currently, more than 374 million people are being injured or affected by illness every year by work-related accidents. It is estimated that economic loss due to OSH-related causes represent almost 4 per cent of global GDP, in some countries the cost can be as high as 6 per cent. The developing Asia is one of a key region in the world constantly suffering with high number of work related deaths, diseases and injuries caused by unsafe working condition. According to a new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO), Changes in working practices, demographics, technology and the environment are creating new occupational safety and health (OSH) concerns. Growing challenges include psychosocial risks, work-related stress and non-communicable diseases, notably circulatory and respiratory diseases, and cancers.  Death caused by hazardous substances at work are all time high linked to 1 million preventable death worldwide each year which is unacceptable.

    It’s a great sorrow to mentation that, the overall development approach in the field of OSH in Asia is mainly focused on workplace accident; addressing occupational diseases is still not a priority. Occupational diseases (silicosis, asbestosis and occupational cancers and many more) are invisible and imminent threat for workers in Asia. The absence of OSH Rights, social protection and just compensation for industrial accidents, injuries and diseases are pushing affected families deeper into poverty and making them vulnerable.

    Recent tragic workplace accidents in various parts of Asia show that health and safety of workers is not prioritised by employers or the enforcement authorities. Occupational accident victims specially women and young people are even being further marginalised as they find it even harder to find long term unemployment or forced to take precarious work that is low paid, unprotected and hazardous.

    We must recognize the economic cost, the immeasurable human suffering such illnesses and accidents. These are all-the-more tragic because they are largely preventable.

    According to UNHCR, exposing workers to substances that do not have a determination of a health-based safe level of exposure is a violation of their rights. At the most fundamental level, comprehensive information regarding the intrinsic health hazards of the vast majority of industrial chemicals continues to be absent, including their ability to cause cancer, to be mutagenic or to be toxic for reproduction Continued exposure of workers to such chemicals not only constitutes a challenge to the rights of these workers to information, but also may amount to exploitation by deception. Without such information about toxic exposures at work, this further limits the rights of workers to realize other related rights.

    OSH legislations are out-dated (regressive) as these generally fail to keep in step with emerging workplace issues and non-standard forms of employment. In many cases, workers in the informal economy, domestic workers, migrant workers are not covered under the legislations. Enforcement of OSH legislations are equally a serious concern in Asia and require joint responses at national and regional level. Updated OSH legislation in the Asian region reflecting the nature of work in Asia is crucial to prevent workplace accidents and diseases and to ensure just compensation for victims.

    The ILO convention 155 (occupational health and safety) and 170 (chemicals convention) is considered as basic international labour standard for securing health and safety rights of all working people inside the national boundary; ensure safe chemical management and exposer fee workplaces. On the other hand, the important feature of the ILO convention 155 is applied to all workers in all branches of economic activity. Therefore, ratification of 155 by countries in Asia is very important to ensure state’s basic legal obligation, ensure occupational health and safety rights of all workers within the country. The formulation of harmonisation of compensation systems and ratification of ILO Convention 155 is an urgent need in Asia. Furthermore, the goal of ILO conversion 170 is to provide workers with information about the chemicals at their workplaces, and about appropriate preventive measures so that they can effectively participate in protective programmes; establishing principles for such programmes to ensure that chemicals are used safely, but regretfully it is found that, till now only few countries in Asia has ratified convention 155 such as China, Korea, Mongolia, Australia, Fiji and Kazakhstan. Its ratification status in south Asia and South East Asia is nil. On the other hand only 21 countries in the world ratified ILO convention 170 (chemical safety), and only China and Korea from Asian region are included that list.

    The international community has long recognized health as a human right. But in a world where above 3 million workers continue to die every year as a result of occupational accidents and work-related diseases; it is time for safety and health at work to be recognized as a fundamental principle and right at work.

    It has to be point out here that, one of key recommendations at just published Global Commission on the Future of Work report is a universal labour guarantee required that protects workers’ fundamental rights, an adequate living wage, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces.

    On the International Workers’ Memorial Day 2019, ANROEV demands the governments in Asia to immediately ratify ILO Convention 155 and 170 as part of states obligation to ensure workers’ rights for a safe, healthy and hazards free workplaces in Asia.

    Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV)

    28.4.2019

    Demand to Asian Governments for the Immediate Ratifications of ILO Convention 155

    April 28, 2018 in Latest News, Top News

    ANROEV Statement for International Workers’ Memorial Day 2018

    On April 28, a day of remembrance for workers who are killed, injured or disabled due to work, we the members of the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) a coalition of victims’ groups, trade unions and other labour groups across Asia raise our voices collectively for the ratification of the ILO convention 155 on Occupational Safety and Health and the working Environment. The ANROEV network is a grassroots network that is committed to the rights of victims and for overall improvement of health and safety at the workplace.

    Work-related disease and accidents are increasing due to OSH Rights violation at the workplace in Asia and poor working conditions kill a worker every 15 seconds across the globe.[i]   According to the ILO[ii] in 2017, OSH-related deaths totaled to 2.78 million workers per year and 317 million workers suffer from work-related injuries annually[iii] . The total cost of accidents, death and illnesses is conservatively estimated at four percent (4%) of the world GDP[iv].

    Asia is the highest contributor to these figures and constituted about two-thirds of the global work-related mortality in 2017. The overall development approach in the field of OSH in Asia is mainly focused on workplace accident, addressing occupational diseases is still not a priority. Occupational diseases (silicosis, asbestosis and occupational cancers and many more) are an invisible and imminent threat for workers in Asia. The absence of OSH Rights, social protection and just compensation for industrial accidents, injuries and diseases are pushing affected families deeper into poverty and making them vulnerable.

    Recent tragic workplace accidents in Asia such as Ali Enterprises [2012] in Pakistan, Tazreen Fire [2012] and Rana Plaza Tragedy [2013] in Bangladesh, Kentex factory fire [2015], HTI fire [2017] in the Philippines and the Fireworks factory explosion [2017] in Indonesia show consistently that health and safety of workers is not prioritised by employers or the enforcement authorities.  Victims specially women and young people are even further marginalised as they find it even harder to find long term unemployment or are forced to take precarious work that is low paid, unprotected and hazardous.

    Despite of the fact that large numbers of workers in different industries and workplaces are being exposed to deadly hazards and carcinogens, diagnosis of these occupational related illnesses and diseases takes a long time because of multitude reasons in the Asian region like lax laws, poor enforcement mechanisms, lack of skilled doctors to name a few. There is a dire need for medical practitioners who are adept and skilled in diagnosing occupational diseases and doctors on the ground who have access to workers and communities to make a timely diagnosis to ensure that workers receive swift treatment and compensation.

    OSH legislations are outdated (regressive) as these generally fail to keep in step with emerging workplace issues and non-standard forms of employment. In many cases, workers in the informal economy, domestic workers, migrant workers are not covered under the legislations. Enforcement of OSH legislations are equally a serious concern in Asia and require joint responses at national and regional level. Updated OSH legislation in the Asian region reflecting the nature of work in Asia is crucial to prevent workplace accidents and diseases and to ensure just compensation for victims.  The formulation of harmonisation of compensation systems and ratify ILO Convention 155 is an urgent need in Asia.

    On the International Workers’ Memorial Day 2018, ANROEV demands the governments in Asia ratify ILO Convention 155 to ensure workers’ rights for a safe and healthy workplace.

    Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims

    28.4.2018


    [i]https://www.ituc-csi.org/one-worker-dies-every-15-seconds

    [ii] http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/lang–en/index.htm

    [iii] ILO, WSC-2017

    [iv] ITUC/AP Report

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