Toxic waste not Ankleshwar’s cup of tea, says German study, but director confident of disposal

Indian Express, May 3, 2007
Vadodara, May 2: It is not just the experts who contended that the Bhopal Gas Tragedy waste cannot be disposed off at the Ankleshwar incinerator. An independent study conducted barely two months ago by German company GTZ based in Frankfurt, raised doubts about the capacity of the Ankleshwar incinerators to handle the disposal of toxic waste. The study, carried out in conjunction with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, throws up some startling facts about the Ankleshwar incinerator like its small size, high emission of dust and gases and untreated ash disposal.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ashok Panjwani, Director of Bharuch Enviro Infrastructure Limited (BEIL) that runs the incinerator said he had no misgivings. “Technically, there is no problem, we have been handling chemical waste for about one and a half years. The protests are more emotional than technical,” Panjwani said.
The major difference that GTZ found between the two incinerators was in size and capacity. The report states that while the Biebesheim incinerator could handle drums with a capacity of 200 litres, the Ankleshwar one could handle only those drums that were lesser than 60 litres. According to the report, this aspect might disturb the thermal destruction. The report found no fire detectors in storage areas and no on-site fire brigade. Also, drums larger than 60 litres must be manually emptied and repacked in plastic bags, which could harm the employees in Ankleshwar, stated the report.
Commenting about the emissions after incineration, the report stated that after incineration, the emissions of total organic carbon and nitrogen oxide (mono, di and so on) at Ankleshwar might exceed the German permit limit value by a factor of 2 and emissions of dust and acidic gases by factors of 4 and 5. The GTZ researchers also found that the residual ash from incineration was disposed without further treatment in the Ankleshwar landfill. This residual waste might contain heavy metals that were volatilised during combustion, which poses a serious health hazard. Also, this residual ash was found not suitable for landfill disposal according to German standards.
The study report, which The Indian Express possesses, was aimed at comparing incinerators, facilities and procedures for hazardous and toxic wastes in India and Germany from the technical and ecological point of view. It also assessed the differences in equipment and environmental management of incinerators.
When asked, Panjwani agreed that though many such studies have been carried out, the BEIL incinerator had already handled waste more toxic than that of the Union Carbide’s. “This incinerator was built according to our requirement, I do not know what the German incinerator was required for. But I am sure we can handle this,” he said.

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