Tag Archives: industrial pollution

Chinese workers lose their lives producing goods for America

BY LORETTA TOFANI, SPECIAL TO THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
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“Keepers of the Flame”. Picture from Char Broil website.
Original story and slideshow in the Utah Salt Lake Tribune

GUANGZHOU, China — The patients arrive every day in Chinese hospitals with disabling and fatal diseases, acquired while making products for America.
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Fish in Uppanar born with genetic deformity, study: waterway polluted by effluents from chemical units

Staff Reporter, The Hindu, 4 April 2007
CHENNAI: Fish in the Uppanar near the SIPCOT industrial estate at Cuddalore are born with genetic deformity, according to a study conducted by student members of the People’s Union for Civil Liberty.
Continue reading Fish in Uppanar born with genetic deformity, study: waterway polluted by effluents from chemical units

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Cuddalore: toxic present, troubled future

Nityanand Jayaraman, Cuddalore Online, November 9, 2006
Cuddalore, the place by the sea, is soon set to be assaulted. Some of the dirtiest industries – chemical factories, petrochemical refineries, a shipbuilding yard, textile dyeing units, and coal-fired power plants – are making a beeline for Cuddalore. The Tamilnadu Government has earmarked Cuddalore district for locating polluting industries. Their argument: Cuddalore is already polluted. So let’s concentrate all polluting industries in this district, thereby saving the rest of Tamilnadu from pollution.
Fact aside, that only one part of Cuddalore – the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Pachaiyankuppam, Kudikadu and Semmankuppam panchayats – is polluted. The rest of Cuddalore is home to white-sand beaches, dense mangroves, lazy rivers, cashew groves and casuarinas.
I have heard about this decision to sacrifice Cuddalore repeated often. At least two chairpersons of the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board have admitted over the last 8 years that Cuddalore’s fate is sealed. . .that a decision to sacrifice Cuddalore has been taken at the highest levels.
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Indiscriminate dumping of toxic wastes has spoilt agricultural fields and groundwater.
The kind of industrialization that is planned for Cuddalore will mean the death of Cuddalore as we know it. Pollution-intensive industrialization has its beneficiaries in far-away places. The local people and the local economy will take a punishing beating.
On the one hand, people dependent on water and land for a livelihood – fishers and farmers – will lose their source of income. On the other, the ill-health caused by a poisoned environment will mean fewer work days, and higher medical expenses.
There are industries, and there are industries. Industries that destroy local resources, poison the air, water and land will eventually impoverish the local people rather than lend to their prosperity.
How do I know? Because we have experience of this kind of chemical-intensive industrialization in Cuddalore, and we know that it has made local people poorer.
All you have to do is check out the 8 km stretch south of Pachaiyankuppam on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram Highway. The SIPCOT industrial estate located here has been judged by many as ranking among the smelliest places in India. About 19 chemical industries, manufacturing pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dye chemicals, explosives, gelatin and sundry chemicals, spew out noxious air emissions and liquid effluents.
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Contaminated groundwater does not spare even the utensils it is stored in.
Just as Eskimos have a thousand words to describe the snow, SIPCOT residents have numerous descriptions for the various smells that assault their senses day-long. SPIC smells of shit; Tagros smells like a hospital; Shasun smells like rotten cabbage, rotten eggs; Pioneer Miyagi smells like a decomposing corpse; Asian Paints smells like sapota fruit. Then there are other smells – nail polish, rotten egg, fruity odours. In all, the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM) – a team of five villagers trained in environmental monitoring – have identified at least 36 odours emanating from the SIPCOT industries.
Surely, progress can’t be this smelly. These smells are not merely a nuisance; anybody that tells you that is lying. Odours are indicators of pollution, of chemicals in the air. Hydrogen sulphide, a deadly gas, has a characteristic rotten egg odour. The nail polish odour indicates the presence of acetone. Rotten cabbage is the smell of your cooking gas resulting from the chemical methyl mercaptan. The shit smell means the presence of a category of chemicals called Indoles.
Indeed, when samples of the ambient air in SIPCOT was sent to the United States for analysis by SACEM, at least 25 chemicals were discovered. Eight of them are known to cause cancer. These include – chloroform, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, 1,2-dichloroethane, carbon tetrachloride, vinyl chloride, bromomethane and benzene.
1,2-dichloroethane was more than safe levels by a factor of 22,973; chloroform was above safe levels by a factor of 5119.
At least 13 of the chemicals found are used as raw material in one or more industries. In other words, toxic chemicals are constantly spilling out of the factories through chimneys and various other leaks and contaminating the air breathed by more than 20,000 people.
The effects are there for all to see. Children in the SIPCOT villages can be seen with rheumy eyes, running noses and rashes on the skin. The eye and nose disorders are indicative of upper respiratory tract problems – a likely sign of air pollution. Anecdotal evidence gathered during the visit of Justice J. Kanakaraj and team as part of the Indian People’s Tribunal revealed shocking information. Women in SIPCOT were reporting menstrual irregularities, delayed onset of puberty among girls, compromised physical development among boys, widespread dental and skin problems.
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These long-term effects pale in front of the acute effects people experience when the air pollution gets intense. “We can’t breathe; it feels like somebody is sitting on your chest. Whatever is in the air burns your eyes, tears through your nose and sets your lungs on fire. At least we can hold a cloth to our nose; imagine the fate of infants,” said one irate mother from Eachangadu, a village surrounded on three sides by smelly factories.
Several 100 acres of fertile farm land have been abandoned because ground water in the entire SIPCOT area is contaminated, and the lands are awash with effluents and toxic waste. The River Uppanar, once the lifeline for more than 8 villages of inland fisherfolk, is now a faint shadow of its original productive self. Ask any fisherman and he will rattle off the names of at least 30 kinds of fishes that used to be found in the River. Now, less than 8 commercial species are found.
In all this, the TNPCB and the State Government have played villains, colluding with the polluters and punishing residents when they complain about pollution. Many of the industries function outside the law. CUSECS — a company that was set up with Government participation to collect treated effluents and discharge it into the Bay of Bengal — is completely illegal. It has no permits whatsoever. Information about quality of effluents discharged from CUSECS was recently obtained by SACEM using Right to Information. That information revealed that CUSECS was not merely illegal, but was discharging highly toxic and untreated effluents into the sea. The long-term effect on fisheries and consumers of Cuddalore fish can be devastating.
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A fisherman displays a fish damaged by pollutants in the River Uppanar
The verdict on Cuddalore is straightforward. The State Human Rights Commission, the Indian People’s Tribunal headed by Justice J. Kanakaraj, and various other agencies both Governmental and non-Governmental have said that Cuddalore is overpolluted, and the people are ill. They have recommended that no further polluting industries be allowed in Cuddalore. But nobody is listening.
Despite intense opposition, the Government is pushing ahead with a proposal by Chemplast Sanmar to set up a factory to manufacture PVC plastic. PVC is one of the most toxic plastics. Its production, usage and disposal are all associated with the release of highly toxic chemicals, including dioxins and furans which are the most toxic chemicals known to science.
The scenic sand dunes of Naduthittu are earmarked for a ultra-mega coal-fired thermal plant which will throw out tones of sulphur dioxide into the air, and release a flyash slurry that will convert the bountiful ocean floor into a concrete cemetery.
Effluents from Tirupur textile units, and from the Ambur-Vaniyambadi leather tanneries are also rumoured to be making their way to the Cuddalore seas via long-distance pipelines. All in all, Cuddalore is set to become the smelly, sweaty armpit of industrial civilization.
Some may call this progress or development. But for the people who live in Cuddalore, this is hell. The ones that can afford to have already left Cuddalore. The unfortunate ones and the elderly have no option but to stay in what has now become a gas chamber.
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Young fishermen in the River Uppanar. Will the river still be alive when these boys grow up?
If you’re concerned and want to help:
Contact: nopvcever@gmail.com
Visit: www.sipcotcuddalore.com
Tel: +91 9444082401

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Chemistry goes green at Imperial College London: New masters course aims to 'clean up' the chemical industry

Imperial College, London, November 8 2006
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Imperial College London is launching a one-year, full-time Master of Research (MRes) course in Green Chemistry, it is announced today. The course will allow postgraduate students to develop their skills in a rapidly growing field which aims to ‘clean up’ the chemical industry, making industrial processes cleaner, greener and more efficient for the benefit of the environment.
Green Chemistry is an emerging discipline which is being propelled to the forefront of chemistry research by pressure on industry to reduce waste and pollution, and by consumers’ increasing awareness of and concern with environmental issues. Advances in Green Chemistry in recent years have seen chemical processes being cut in length and complexity, resulting in less energy being used to make drugs and other products, while some international firms have reduced the amounts of hazardous waste they produce by millions of tonnes.
The new Green Chemistry course at Imperial is being set up to build on these successes by supporting future scientists to hone their skills in the field. The course will offer a multi-disciplinary approach to the subject which will expose students to topics as diverse as biotechnology, renewable energy, environmental policy, and chemical synthesis and catalysis, with both taught and research components.
Postgraduate students embarking on the course will be supported by an established and renowned Sustainable Chemistry group at Imperial’s Department of Chemistry. This group’s research includes searching for new ways of producing plastics using plants and other biological materials, instead of the petrochemicals that currently make almost all of the plastics used on a daily basis such as carrier bags and cling film.
Professor Tom Welton from Imperial’s Department of Chemistry, who will be leading the new MRes course, said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer up-coming chemists the chance to study for this masters course which will give them an excellent grounding in Green Chemistry, and which will be an ideal preparation for a PhD and research career in this essential field.
“The stereotypical image of the energy-guzzling chemical industry, polluting the air and creating hazardous waste products is no longer compatible with governments’ and consumers’ concern for the environment. The chemicals industries have made a good start, but we need to develop the next generation of researchers to take this to the next level, so that chemical and pharmaceutical companies can continue to provide much needed products without putting such a strain on our environment and natural resources.”
The Masters of Research in Green Chemistry will have its first intake in the academic year 2007/2008. Applications to the course will be accepted from with immediate effect, and students wishing to find out more about the course should go to: MRes in Green Chemistry: Energy and the Environment.
For further information please contact:
Danielle Reeves
Imperial College London Press Office
Tel: +44 (0)20 759 42198
Mob: +44 (0)7803 886248
Email: Danielle.reeves@imperial.ac.uk
Notes to Editors:
1. Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,500) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment – underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture. Website: www.imperial.ac.uk

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