Kochi

PCB to test ash from Brahmapuram for heavy metal presence

The KSPCB is looking into how far the fire has infiltrated into the almost five-metre deep waste heaps at the plant as the generation of methane gas could keep the waste piles simmering.

The KSPCB is looking into how far the fire has infiltrated into the almost five-metre deep waste heaps at the plant as the generation of methane gas could keep the waste piles simmering.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Attempts to collect samples on Monday fail as use of excavators presses ash down into heaps; threat looms of leachate mixed with metals seeping into waterbody

Though the fire and the resultant smoke at the Kochi Corporation’s solid waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram have been brought under control, the potential heavy metal presence in the ash deposits threatens to pollute the atmosphere and endanger public health.

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) will collect samples of ash from the site on Tuesday for testing them for the presence of hazardous and toxic components such as dioxins, furan and heavy metals.

Attempts to collect samples on Monday failed, as the constant churning of the site using excavators pressed the ash further down into the heaps.

“The presence of heavy metals is likely since plastic is involved.

“Once heavy metals are detected in the ash, it will have to be construed as a violation under the Hazardous Waste Management Rules. There is also the danger of leachate mixed with heavy metals seeping into the nearby waterbody,” M.A. Baiju, Chief Environment Engineer, KSPCB, told The Hindu.

The agency is also looking into how far the fire has infiltrated into the almost five-metre deep waste heaps at the plant as the generation of methane gas could keep the waste piles simmering.

Particulate matter

Meanwhile, the ambient air monitoring readings from the two centres of the KSPCB at Vyttila and Ambalamugal have found the presence of particulate matter to be more than three times the threshold levels.

The readings at 7.30 a.m. on Monday put particulate matter of 2.50-microgram size, capable of infiltrating directly into the lungs and causing health complications, to be 191 at Vyttila as against the threshold level of 60.

“While the presence of particulate matter during peak hours at Vyttila cannot be solely attributed to the fire, as construction activities and traffic congestion could also be responsible for it, the fact that it went up to 212 during Sunday night makes the assessment difficult despite discounting the inversion phenomenon causing its ground level suspension owing to high humidity and low temperature during nights and early mornings,” said Mr. Baiju.

He said he kept receiving calls from residents at Infopark, Rajagiri and Irumpanam, complaining about the unease caused by the smog up until 1.30 a.m. on Monday.

The KSPCB fears that the Corporation’s suspension of waste collection in the wake of the fire may lead to fresh challenges as waste might get dumped at various points.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 6:18:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pcb-to-test-ash-from-brahmapuram-for-heavy-metal-presence/article26369167.ece

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