‘Operation slush removal’ on

Two members of the effluent treatmet firm, including the Managing Director, are absconding

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:19 pm IST

Published - February 02, 2015 08:02 am IST - VELLORE:

The work to remove the massive slush that got deposited on the road began on Sunday.

The work to remove the massive slush that got deposited on the road began on Sunday.

A day after a wall of the Secure Landfill Facility (SLF) of a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at the SIDCO Industrial Estate at Ranipet collapsed, killing 10 tannery workers, work to remove the massive slush that got deposited on the road began on Sunday.

The SLF, which officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) term “illegally constructed and used,” was set up by the Ranipet SIDCO Finished Leather Effluent Treatment Company Ltd.

Officials said the wall of the nearly 1,000 cubic metre-capacity SLF had developed cracks leading to the collapse

On Saturday night, a meeting to discuss the action plan to safely remove the slush was held.

Officials of the TNPCB, including its chairman K. Skandan; an expert from the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Chennai; officials of the district administration; and the CETP sketched the action plan along with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Arakkonam.

With the nod of the Collector, steps to execute the action plan commenced on Sunday. P. Shanmugam, Deputy Director of CLRI, had come up with guidelines, particularly on the method of disposal of the slush.

Officials estimated that 500 to 600 cubic metres of slush could have been deposited in the industry premises and on the road. Earthmovers were engaged in removing the slush. As the slush contains toxic gas hydrogen sulphide, which smells like rotten egg, officials said they measured the levels of the gas and sprayed lime solution to suppress it before clearing and they expect the operation to continue on Monday.

A 43-member team from the NDRF provided support to the machine operators of the CETP engaged in clearing the slush.

V. Krishna Kumar, deputy team commander of the NDRF, said the team had come fully equipped as the operation involved presence of toxic agents in the slush. Besides hydrogen sulphide, elements like chromium and ammonium were also present.

“Our personnel will provide support to the machine operators. We have given specific advisory on how much time each worker should spend at the site. They have been asked to work on rotation basis,” he said.

The NDRF team had brought rescue equipment such as rope rescue and 24 sets of breathing apparatus.

Official sources said this was a clear incident of “human error” and labourers often did not have the knowledge of the hazardous conditions that they worked in.

Ministers including Environment Minister Thoppu N.D. Venkatachalam visited the spot on Saturday.

All units shut, power supply cut

In the wake of the accident, all 86 member units of the Ranipet SIDCO Finished Leather Effluent Treatment Company Ltd. and its Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) have been closed.

Following the orders of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation has disconnected power supply to these units.

Police said that two members of Ranipet SIDCO Finished Leather Effluent Treatment Company including the managing director were absconding.

P.K. Senthilkumari, Superintendent of Police, Vellore, said they would be able to take further action only after officials of the Inspectorate of Factories inspected the site and submitted a report.

Whether the SLF was set up after permission or was there any negligence on part of the company will be known only after a detailed report. “We will be able to take action based on this report,” she said.

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