Contaminated ash mixed with plastic that emerged following the massive fire at the dumping site of the Kochi Corporation at Brahmapuram on March 2 had reached up to three metres below the ground level, according to the Local Self-Government department (LSGD).
The extent of damage caused to the natural ecosystem following the fire, which lasted for nearly 11 days, was revealed in a report filed by Sarada Muraleedharan, Additional Chief Secretary, LSGD, before the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 17.
The scope of providing a geotextile cover over the fire-hit legacy waste and downstream to contain the contaminated ash could be explored. The control of mere surface run-off was not going to be sufficient, as ash mixed with plastic had gone down to three metres below the ground level. The need for a bund that could contain the ash by trapping it in a smaller space that could act as a filtration pond was also to be explored, it said.
An expert team from the CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, which had estimated the quantity of burnt and unburnt waste at the site following the fire, had warned that toxic chemicals present in the burnt residue or ash could get leached or flushed into water streams as well as surrounding areas during rains, posing significant threats to human and environmental health.
The study found that around 1.05 lakh tonnes of unburnt (50.1%), 8,151 tonnes of semi-burnt plastic (3.9%), and 95,932 tonnes of ash mixed mud or soil waste fractions (45.9%) were present in the fire-ridden waste piles.