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Indian police stop LG Chem employees from going home despite flight approval

Foreign Ministry maintains they are ‘discussing how to respond’

LG Polymers plant in India (AFP-Yonhap)
LG Polymers plant in India (AFP-Yonhap)

LG Chem said Friday the Indian police have restricted its special task force comprised of eight officials from boarding a chartered flight back to South Korea.

According to the company, its special task force -- dispatched to India on May 13 in the aftermath of a deadly styrene gas leak at a LG Polymers plant -- was blocked by Andhra Pradesh state police on Tuesday from boarding a chartered plane back to Korea despite approval from the local aviation authorities. The flight returned to Korea empty.

“It’s unclear on what grounds the state police stopped the task force from leaving. The special task force clearly received approval from the state government to leave the country,” an LG Chem official said.

Last Sunday, the Andhra Pradesh High Court barred the management of LG Polymers in India from leaving the country without its permission, while ordering authorities not to release their surrendered passports.

In other words, LG Chem’s special task force, irrelevant to the high court’s order, was blocked by the state police from leaving the country without due legal grounds.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said it was requested by the Andhra Pradesh state to delay the team’s departure.

“(We have confirmed) that the Korean Embassy in India and LG Chem were notified of the request,” a Foreign Ministry official said, without elaborating further or offering an explanation as to why LG Chem officials had arrived at the airport in such a case.

The ministry said it was discussing the matter with the Indian government.

LG Chem Executive Vice President and President of Petrochemicals Business Noh Kug-lae is leading the special task force including production and environmental safety experts. LG Chem has deposited 500 million rupees ($6.6 million) to India’s National Green Tribunal to partly cover the damage caused by the gas leak.

By Kim Byung-wook (