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Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat government machinery brokered a deal to transport waste from the old Union Carbide factory to Ankleshwar for incineration

Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti

c/o 37 Patrakar Colony, Tandalja,
Vadodara 390 020, Phone: 0265-2320399

Email: rt_manav@sancharnet.in

29 April 2007 For Immediate Release

Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat government machinery brokered a deal to transport waste from the old Union Carbide factory to Ankleshwar for incineration

Is ÒNirmalÓ Gujarat meant to be the National Hazardous Waste Disposal Capital of the country?

Dioxins (the most toxic chemical known to humankind), which were released during the original gas leak in Bhopal, will be released in Ankleshwar during incineration

Gujarat: Investment zone or dumping ground?

 Gujarat
prides itself as the most advanced and industrialised state in the country and
has been publicly welcoming investment and tourists. But privately it has been
courting the arrival of hundreds of tons of hazardous waste from the infamous
and lethal Union Carbide factory in Bhopal.  We would like to inform 100 crore Indians and specifically 5
crore Gujaratis that these claims of being a leader in economic growth and
opportunity ring hollow because in reality the Government of Gujarat is engaged
in making sly deals to emerge as a sub-contactor to Union Carbide by disposing
of its waste. The dark side of this so-called prosperity has been revealed
through documents exchanged between the Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat
governments.  The State is
withdrawing from its constitutional duty of education, health, and social
security of the people, but simultaneously voluntarily assumes the polluterÕs
duty by requesting the shift of this waste to Gujarat for incineration ∆ which
is outside of the purview of its constitutional powers and responsibilities.

Madhya
Pradesh Government: Passive accomplice

 

Twenty-three
years after the largest chemical disaster this planet has faced, Union Carbide
(now Dow Chemicals) still absconds from duty.  Even the technical sub-committee of the task force appointed
by the MP High Court originally recommended that the waste must be made
sea-worthy and be exported back to the responsible party at the cost of the
polluters, and non-compliance should warrant freezing of all Dow Chemical
assets in India. However, the MP government is taking a drastically different
action, and we see that it is also trying to hide the original recommendations
and other such facts.  Whereas the
Indian Government should have held this company responsible and prosecuted the
guilty, it has instead chosen to accommodate the dereliction of corporate duty
by cleaning up Union CarbideÕs mess at the cost of the Indian taxpayers.

 

346
MT : The tip of the iceberg

 

The
GPCB is making a mockery of the states own ÒNirmal
GujaratÓ campaign.  The total assessment of waste in the
old Union Carbide factory is still unknown to the public and to experts.  Because thousands of tons of hazardous
waste is lying in an unlined area of the company, unfathomable leaching into
the soil and groundwater has been going on for the past 23 years.  The 346 MT of toxic waste that has been
cleared to come to Ankleshwar is a mere drop in the ocean of the waste of the
entire premises is still pending treatment.  The GPCB is now setting a precedent which will easily open
the floodgates for waste from any corner of the world to arrive in
Ankleshwar.  We have no idea of how
much waste might make its way to Gujarat if the GPCB allows this first batch to
be imported to Ankleshwar for incineration. The Bhopalis have been suffering
for the past 23 years from untold health problems and environmental damage; now
it appears that the state Governments of both Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat will
allow the Gujarati public to suffer a similar fate.

 

We
have learned that the composition of the waste is as follows:

 

S. No Description of waste for
incineration
Quantity
[Approx]
1 Sevin & Napthol
residues
Together-95MT
2 Reactor residue 30MT
3 Semi processed pesticides 56MT
4 Excavated waste 165MT
  Total 346 MT

 

In
2005, the MPPCB was granted one time permission for the transportation and
disposal for 67 MT of waste. However, by 2006, B K Singh, Member Secretary of
the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board in Letter No 594, MPPCB/BHOPAL,
Dated  8/10/06, requested
permission from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to dispose of 346 MT of
toxic waste, which is over 5 times the original quantity (see table above for
full details). Mr. J. K. Vyas (Director, Gujarat Forest and Environment
Department) finally granted permission for the same on 4 January 2007. Despite
the fact that it is the GPCBÕs own admission Ankleshwar is a toxic hotspot, the
state machinery is inviting even more hazardous waste to the city.

 

Throwing
the wisdom of judicial reports out the door

 

The
judiciary has express knowledge of the gravity of the situation in both Bhopal,
Madhya Pradesh and the entire Golden Corridor of Gujarat. Dr Tapan Chakrabarti &
Dr Claude Alvares, members of Supreme Court Monitoring CommitteeÕs report dated
7th April 2004 clearly states that the Òdumping of hazardous wastes
or their neglect has resulted in the total unavailability of ground water
suppliesÓ in Bhopal and Ankleshwar[1],
and the Supreme Court has released an order based on this report[2]:  We would expect that the Madhya Pradesh
and Central Governments would have taken legal action against Union Carbide
(now Dow Chemical) and forced them to clean up the toxic waste that created the
ground water situation described above.

 

Adding fuel to a
burning fire: importing hazardous waste to a toxic hotspot

 

Let us examine the choice
of incinerating this waste in Ankleshwar. Ankleshwar has been acknowledged as a
hotspot by GPCB. In a report released by Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti in August
of 2005, Ankleshwar had the most hazardous array of chemicals in ambient air as
compared with two other samples from the Golden Corridor. The air sample
collected from Ankleshwar revealed the presence of four cancerous chemicals
much higher than international standards (this, when the local populations did
not complain of smell). The following chemicals were found in the ambient air
at the Ankleshwar Industrial Estate: Hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan,
carbon disulphide, dimethyl disulphide, ethanol, acetone, isopropyl alcohol,
methylene chloride, methyl ethyl ketone, n-hexane, benzene, carbon
tetrachloride, trichloroethene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, m,p-xylenes.  These chemicals affect reproductive
systems, the central nervous system, the kidneys and the liver, among other
things. In spite of presence of such toxic chemicals in the air in Ankleshwar,
GPCB still does not monitor for such pollutants, and thus health effects on
citizens of Ankleshwar remains unknown.
Furthermore:

1.
The
Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) and Common Incinerator Facility
at Ankleshwar are not regularly monitored by independent experts and regulatory
bodies.

2.
Moreover,
GPCB neither seems to have the capability nor does it monitor the specific
pollutants coming out of such Common Incinerator Facilities.

3.
The
carrying capacity of the area is undeniably strained.

4.
We
object to the concept of dealing with hazardous waste through incineration on
scientific grounds, and do not believe in managing wastes by transforming one
type of hazard into another form.

 

The
Ankleshwar Incinerator: Waste disposal or smokescreen

 

There
is serious doubt as to scientific soundness of incineration as a method to deal
with hazardous solid waste. Moreover, this case, a relatively small batch-fed
incinerator employed by BEIL allows cooling of the chamber and waste which
creates conditions conducive to production of dioxins and furans (which
contribute to various forms of cancer and was released in large quantity during
the original Bhopal explosion), as well as incomplete destruction of other
toxic heavy metals like mercury.  A
GTZ (The German Technical Cooperation) study has shown many shortcomings of the
common incinerator facility at Ankleshwar.  The most worrisome features of this design include:

 

1.
Waste
will have to be repacked by hand to be fed in the incinerator, having an impact
on workers health

2.
Half-hourly
permit limit values may be violated because of thermal peak loads and
inhomogeneous waste feed causing gaseous emission peaks in this design

3.
Heavy
metals such as mercury that is not completely destroyed will then be caught in
the flue gas dust, becoming highly leachable

4.
Special
treatments and immobilization of ash and dust generated during incineration is
required to prevent leaching, yet this is not done in Ankleshwar

5.
Waste
should be stored in underground facilities according to international
standards, but in Ankleshwar, the waste will be stored in above-ground
landfills

 

Objection to this injustice

 

We strongly object to such an
unethical, immoral action and the precedent that it would set.  We object to the permission given by
GPCB for the incineration of this waste.
It strikes us as grossly unjust to physically transport more hazardous
waste to that area from 640 km away.
PSS has already written a letter (dated 25 April 2007) to the GPCB
registering our demand that this waste does not come to Ankleshwar and
registering our belief that changing one type of toxin into another form
through incineration is not the solution.
As a follow up to this letter, Michael Mazgaonkar (of PSS) called Sanjiv
Tyagi (Member Secretary of the GPCB).
Sanjiv Tyagi indicated that the GPCB is taking the PSS letter seriously
and has agreed to review the decision.
We plan on publicly fighting this move by the MP and Gujarat
governments.  We demand to know why
the state bureaucracy is shying away from the public debate that PSS has
demanded.  We will oppose this
tooth and nail.

 

Paryavaran Suraksha
Samiti

 


Rohit Prajapati

Michael Mazgaonkar

Swati Desai

Badribhai Joshi

Trupti Shah

Krishnakant

Anand Mazgaonkar

Shivani Patel


 


[1]  The
report states: ÒÉThe Committee or its members have visited the Union Carbide
Plant in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and the Industrial Estates of Vapi, Ankleshwar and Nandesari (Vadodara) and villages around
the Effluent Channel Project (ECP) in Vadodara and Bharuch districts in the State of Gujarat. In all
these areas, due to poor practices of entrepreneurs and laxity of the
authorities in implementing environmental regulations, the dumping of hazardous
wastes or their neglect has resulted in the total unavailability of ground
water supplies. .. The ground water aquifers in all these areas need to be
rehabilitated and recharged and the sources of pollution, particularly
hazardous waste dumpsites need to be expeditiously evacuated.ÉÓ

[2] Because of the horrific contamination of water
described in the above report, HONÕBLE Mr. Justice Y. K. Sabharwal and HONÕBLE
Mr. Justice Mr. S. B. Sinha passed the order on 7th May 2004 on the
behalf of the Supreme Court:

ÒThe [SCMC] report records that due to indiscriminate
dumping of hazardous waste due to non-existent or negligent practices together
with lack of enforcement by authorities, the ground water and, therefore,
drinking water supplies have been effected/damaged. The state Government of
Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are directed to take steps to supply fresh drinking
water in tanks or pipes, particularly, taking into consideration; the fact that
summer season has already set in. It shall be done expeditiously.Ó

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Seven deaths in 4 months, do safety codes at chemical units here stink?

Express News Service, November 13, 2006
BHARUCH-ANKLESHWAR: WITH DEATH OF 3 GIRLS AT CLOSED UNIT, POSERS ON SAFEGUARDS CROP UP
Vadodara, November 13: SIX deaths have taken place within four months in two separate incidents of industrial accidents in Ankleshwar’s GIDC unit, while there has been one fatality at the Panoli industrial unit in the neighbourhood which has a high concentration of chemical industries. While authorities made no breakthrough in the mysterious deaths of three girls on Sunday in a closed chemical unit at the Ankleshwar GIDC, they have sought the services of health officials to ascertain if it could be a case of food poisoning.
A month ago, two women and one man had died in an explosion at a unit after release of chemicals in the main effluent drainage pipeline.
These were casual labourers residing in the GIDC area next to Pragna Chemicals in the Ankleshwar GIDC area. According to Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) officials, some unit had released untreated chemical waste in the effluent drainage which led to a reaction and thereafter an explosion in the nearby tank.
In another such incident around four months ago, a chemical factory worker, Rajendra Bachhansingh, succumbed to severe injuries due to gas leakage at Pesticides India in the Panoli GIDC region. Sources said that such incidences are more frequent at pesticide units than other industries due to a chemical reaction-prone environment.
There are around 1,200 chemicals units in the Bharuch-Ankleshwar region.
In Sunday’s incident where three girls—Kamliben Garvala (18), Kasmi (17), and Anu (7)—died in mysterious circumstances in a closed chemical unit, the Bharuch police have now sought the help of health officials to ascertain if they could have died of food poisoning.
While awaiting the post-mortem and forensic laboratory reports, investigating officer Vijay Soma said, ‘‘We have started recording the statements of everyone in the neighbourhood to know if they experienced any effects of gas emission, but no one seems to confirm it.’’
In addition to GPCB officials, Industrial Safety and Health Department deputy director P J Gamit said, ‘‘We did not find any evidence of gas leakage there. In recent times, we have imposed strict laws for industrial safety in the region.’’
Meanwhile, if the cause of death in Sunday’s incident is not ascertained, the girls’ family will not get the compensation amount they are entitled to under provision of industrial safety laws.
Bharuch district collector Murli Krishna said for the moment they are not considering any compensation, as the cause of death is yet to be established, and also the unit was closed.

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