Report of the Visit of the SCMC to Tamilnadu September 20-22, 2004Published by MAC on 2001-05-01
Report of the Visit of the SCMC to Tamilnadu September 20-22, 2004
SUPREME COURT MONITORING COMMITTEE (Ref: CWP 657 0f 1995)
The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Waste Management (SCMC) visited the State of Tamilnadu during September 20-22, 2004 to monitor compliance of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in its order dated 14.10.2003 in CWP No.657/1995 and to verify the report presented by the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to the SCMC at its second meeting held in Mumbai in January 2004.
1) Members of the SCMC
· Dr. Claude Alvares
· Dr. D.B. Boralkar
· Dr. Tapan Chakrabarti
· Prof. S.P. Mehrotra
· Dr. G. Thyagarajan, Chairman
· Ms. Usha Subramaniam, Jt. Director (HSM Divn)
3) TN PCB
· Ms. Girija Vaidyanathan, Chairperson
· Thiru K. Sanjeevi, Member Secretary
· Thiru R. Ramachandran, Dy. Chief Environ. Engineer.
4) TN State Government
· Shri Ajoy Bhattacharya, Environment Secretary
· Shri R. Mishra, Industry Secretary
· Shri T.R.Srinivasan, Chairman & Managing Director, SIPCOT
Following is the report of the Committee:
DAY TWO: September 21, 2004:
1. Visit to M/s Sterlite Industries Ltd, Tuticorin.
During the visit to M/s Sterlite, the Committee observed that the unit has not provided adequate infrastructure and facilities for management of the wastes generated. The Committee was particularly concerned with the issues relating to the disposal of arsenic containing slag which is dumped in the factory premises and is in the range of several thousands of tonnes. In fact, there is a mountain of arsenic-bearing slag as also one of phospho-gypsum. Phospho-gypsum, if not contained properly, occasionally becomes airborne and may cause severe respiratory disorders in the surrounding vulnerable population. Moreover, there are some issues still to be resolved in terms of the hazardous nature of the arsenic-bearing ETP wastes which were earlier contained in an inadequately designed hazardous waste landfill and require disposal as per CPCB Guidelines.
The industry, as reported to the SCMC during the visit, is also emitting sulphur dioxide far in excess of the permissible standards particularly when the sulphuric acid plant is not operating.
The inadequacies observed in the environmentally sound management of wastes have resulted in adverse impact on the recipient environment including the health of the people in the area.
The SCMC, therefore, direct the concerned TN authority to undertake a detailed environmental audit of the unit and to assess the efficacy of its environmental management practices by an independent agency.
SCMC was also informed that the said unit is proceeding for about three times expansion of its existing capacity i.e. from 70,000 tpa to 1.8 lakh tpa.
When the existing waste management practices of the unit are not in compliance with the environmental standards and the solid hazardous wastes generated also require to be properly managed, particularly in terms of available space and infrastructure, it would be inadvisable to consider expansion of the unit at this stage.
The SCMC is of the opinion that without proper assessment of the infrastructure for the management of these hazardous wastes in compliance of the directions of the Supreme Court, the environmental clearance for the proposed expansion should not be granted by the MoEF. If it has been granted, it shall be revoked.
The SCMC is also directing the TNPCB to make a detailed visit to the plant to ascertain whether the unit has already proceeded with the expansion of the project without prior permission from the appropriate authority(ies) in which case the TNPCB shall take suitable action under the provisions of the EIA notification as well as the Water Act, 1974, Air Act,1981 and the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2003. The TNPCB will examine both plant equipment and production data in this connection and submit a detailed report to the SCMC within a space of 15 days from the receipt of this report.
Dated Wednesday, 29 September 2004.
Dr. Claude Alvares Dr. D.B. Boralkar
Dr. Tapan Chakrabarti Prof. S.P.Mehrotra
Dr. G. Thyagarajan