Public sector Hindustan Insecticides charged with polluting environment

Kerala State Pollution Control Board on Tuesday ordered the Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL), Kochi, manufacturing endosulfan and other pesticides, to close down its operations on charges of polluting the environment.

The order asks the public sector company to close down “all operations and process in the industry with immediate effect”. However, it will have seven days time to report compliance as some processes would need time for total shut down.

The Chairman of the Board, K. Sajeevan, said in an interview that the company had been continuously violating conditions of the ‘integrated consent to operate’ granted by the Board that specified proper handling of effluents and hazardous waste.

Repeated demands made by the Board to shift hazardous wastes to the common treatment, storage and disposal facility at Ambalamedu were ignored by the company. It also did not respond to show-cause notice issued last month.

The Chairman said that the pesticide residues and their degradation products were leaching out to the neighbourhood. A stream, Kuzhikandam thodu, was contaminated with pesticide, and fish kills had been reported in the past.

People were living within the 200 metre from the factory; and four industries in the locality — HIL, FACT, IRE and Mercum were supplying drinking water to 2140 families in the area.

The order said that HIL had violated provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, the Environment (Protection) Act and Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules. As per the consent given for its operation, the industry had to close the earthen lagoon containing hazardous waste in its premises after transferring the liquid part to the effluent treatment plant and shifting the entire quantity of the hazardous wastes to the common treatment, storage disposal facility.

The backfilling of the lagoon after de-sludging was to be completed before June 2010. However, the company had not even kept its promise to complete the work by April 30, 2011.

An inspection by Board officers on April 18 and May 2 this year had confirmed that no measures had been taken by the company to remove the sludge. There was also chance of seepage of toxic sludge into nearby water bodies through storm water.

The company manufactured DDT, Dicofol and Mancozeb formulation besides endosulfan. Hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid are produced as by-products.

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