Staff Reporter

Protest against waste treatment plant

KOCHI: Public protest is building up against the setting up of Common Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (CHWTSDF) at Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT), Ambalamugal premises.

A hartal will be observed at Karimugal and Ambalamugal areas on November 24 in protest against the laying of foundation stone for the project. Shops and other commercial establishments will remain closed.

A dharna will be held in front of Ambalamugal unit of FACT, R. Nandakumar, president of Carbon Malineekarana Virudha Samiti said here on Wednesday.

No going back

Elaborating on the environmental problems caused by the TSDF unit, Dr. Nandakumar said the authorities were moving ahead with the setting up of the facility even when fears regarding the environmental impact of the project remain.

People living close to the site have not yet received a proper inventory of hazardous waste that will be treated at the 50-acre facility located close to Chitrapuzha.

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, prepared by Fact Engineering and Design Organisation (FEDO), had mentioned that the total hazardous waste generated in Kerala is 82,724 million tonnes a year.

About 87.7 per cent of the waste is generated from 65 units in the large-scale sector.

Industrial units in Ernakulam generate 48.7 per cent of the total hazardous waste followed by Kollam district (39.28 per cent).

EIA report

Dr. Nandakumar said that the EIA report formulated by FEDO had not taken into consideration the actual impact of the project on the ecology of the area.

Use of chemicals

It is learnt that over 60 industries which intend to participate in the project use about 400 different chemicals.

Social activist C. R. Neelakantan said that wasted reactants put together would create a complex chemical character defying the possibility of setting up a common treatment plant for wastewater. People who live near the proposed site had no information about the quality and quantity of hazardous waste reaching the facility.

This makes it necessary to assess the compatibility of wastes for storage.

Studies had found that the environmental impact of the project could not be fully assessed owing to the absence of data on operations and magnitude of the project facility.

Jacob Lazar of Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties said that the rapid EIA report has not projected the impact during site development and construction. The consequent loss of fish wealth and loss of livelihood to fishermen are not projected in the impact assessment. There was also no clarity about how the recurring expenditure of the project would be met in future, he said.

Experts at Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) had earlier pointed out that contaminant discharge from the facility by way of fugitive loss, accidents, failure of operations or storage facility would be directly reaching Chitrapuzha.