Sipcot Area - Community Environmental Monitors

High Levels of Carcinogens Found after Manali Gas Leak

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

4 January, 2008.CHENNAI — At least
26 toxic volatile organic chemicals and sulphur gases including carcinogenic benzene and bromomethane were found in an air sample taken in Manali several hours after the gas leak of December 4-5, 2007. Of the 26 chemicals, the 11 chemicals that were reliably identified
include Hydrogen Sulphide, Carbon Disulphide, Bromomethane, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Benzene, Toluene, n-Hexane, Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylenes, o-Xylene, and n-Nonane. Benzene, hydrogen sulphide, carbon disulphide and bromomethane were above safe limits. Barring bromomethane, all other chemicals are known to be part of refinery emissions. Benzene and hydrogen sulphide was 36 times and 33 times higher than safe levels prescribed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency respectively. The sample was analysed for 89 chemicals in Columbia Analytical Services, California.

 

 CPCL Manali polution

 

Benzene is
causes childhood leukemia (blood cancer). Hydrogen sulphide, a gas with a rotten egg smell, is a powerful neurotoxin that affects the brain, and reduces the IQ of growing children. Both chemicals target children particularly.

 

“Given that the sample was taken after and not during the gas leak, levels of toxic gases during the gas leak are likely to have been many times higher than what was found,” said Dr. Rakhal Gaitonde, a public health specialist. “Contrary to claims by the TNPCB that the leaked gases were harmless, the air sample results indicate that even under normal circumstances, the air in Manali is a threat to public health.”

 

CPCL Manali polution

 

Subsequent
to the release, the TNPCB admitted that venting of hydrocarbons is routine and that the incident of early December was caused by adverse weather conditions. Releasing toxic gases to the environment is not in line with best industry practices worldwide. Ironically, CPCL has received environmental and safety awards every year from 2000 onwards, including from the Central Pollution Control Board, TERI, LoyolaCollege, CII and Greentech Foundation.

 

Manali, and the areas of North Chennai, are home to most of the city’s poor and working classes. Long-standing complaints of pollution in the area have not been taken seriously. Regulatory authorities have exposed a total lack of capacity to curb pollution or deal with hazardous situations. Evacuation during a major emergency is impossible in North Chennai owing to the congested streets and the high density of hazardous industries.

 

The December incident highlighted the inability of the district administration, police, TNPCB and the health services departments to understand and deal with the public health crisis caused by the gas leak.

 

Under these circumstances, a recent move by the Secretary, Department of Environment, to convene an interdepartmental Crisis Cell for Chemical Accidents is a welcome and much-needed initiative.

 

The sample was taken by Chennai-based Community Environmental Monitoring. Analytical costs were paid by Global Community Monitor in California.

 

Community Environmental Monitoring. Contact: Nityanand Jayaraman 9444082401

42A, 1st Floor, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

 

KEY AIR TOXIC SUBSTANCES EMITTED FROM OIL REFINERIES:

 

Ammonia –
AT, CT

Benzene – C, BD, R, CT – ***

Biphenyl – BD, CT – ***

1,3-Butadiene – C, BD, R, CT – ***

Carbon disulfide (CS2) – AT, CT – ***

Carbonyl sulfide (COS) – AT, CT – ***

Cumene – CT, N – ***

Cyclohexane – AT, CT

Diethanolamine (DEA) – C – ***

Dioxin (TCDD) – C, BD, R, CT – ***

Ethylene – CT

Ethylbenzene – BD, R, CT – ***

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) – N, AT, CT

Mercury (Hg) – N – ***

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) – AT, CT – ***

Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) – C, AT, CT – ***

Naphthalene – AT, CT – ***

Phenol – BD, AT – ***

Propylene – AT, CT

Styrene – C, M, CT – ***

Sulfur trioxide (SO3) – AT, CT

Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) – AT, CT – ***

1,2,4-trimethylbenzene – AT, CT – ***

Toluene – BD, R – ***

Xylenes – BD, R, CT – ***

 

AC = ACUTE TOXIN

BD = DEVELOPMENTAL TOXIN (causes birth defects)

C = CARCINOGEN

CT = CHRONIC TOXIN

M = HERITABLE MUTAGEN (causes genetic changes to DNA or genes)

N = NEUROTOXIN

R = REPRODUCTIVE TOXIN

***HAP = HAZARDOUS AIR POLLUTANT (list of 188 HAPs is from Title III of the
1990 Federal Clean Air Act Amendments signed into law November 15, 1990)

 

Analyses of results from the sample taken downwind of CPCL in Manali, North Madras

 

Date of Sampling: 5 December 2007

 

Time of Sampling: 4:20 pm

 

Location: Across the road from CPCL compound wall at MGR Nagar, West of CPCL

 

Wind direction: Northeast to Southwest.

 

Description of sampling conditions and location: Gusty wind. Faint to strong smell of bitumen/tar. Local
residents reported that the smell, at the time of sampling, was at normal
background levels, and that it had been more than four hours since the smell
was intense.

 

Results:

  • 11 chemicals detected: Hydrogen Sulphide, Carbon Disulphide, Bromomethane, Methyl Ethyl Ketone,
    Benzene, Toluene, n-Hexane, Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylenes, o-Xylene, n-Nonane

 

  • 4 out of 11 chemicals above known environmental standards:
    – Benzene, a known carcinogen, 36 times above limits

– Hydrogen Sulphide, a potent neurotoxin, 33 times above limits

– Carbon Disulphide, also a neurotoxin, 7.6 times above limits

– Bromomethane, a carcinogen, 1.4 times above limits

 

  • Out of the 11 chemicals found, 10 target the eyes and the Central Nervous System, 9 target the respiratory system and skin, 5 target the kidneys, 4 target the liver, 3 target the blood, 2 target the Peripheral Nervous System, Cardio Vascular System and
    the gastrointestinal tract and 1 chemical targets the reproductive system and bone marrow.

 

 

S

No

 

 

Chemical found

 

 

Levels detected (ug/m3)

 

 

Health based Screening levels
(ug/m3)

 

 

Number of times exceed the
screening levels (approx)

 

 

Odour

 

 

Health Effects

 

 

Target Organs

 

 

Carcinogen

 

 

1.

 

 

Hydrogen Sulphide

 

 

33

 

 

1.00 (US EPA Region 6 Screening
Level)

 

 

33

 

 

A strong odour of rotten eggs

 

 

Irritation of eyes, respiratory
system; convulsions; conjunctivitis, eye pain, dizziness, headache, weakness,
exhaustion, irritability, gastrointestinal disturbance

 

 

Eyes, respiratory system, central
nervous system

 

 

No

 

 

2.

 

 

Carbon Disulphide

 

 

23

 

 

3 (Texas Long-Term Screening Levels)

 

 

7.67

 

 

A sweet ether-like odour

 

 

Dizziness, headache, poor sleep,
weakness, exhaustion, anxiety, weight loss; gastritis; kidney, liver injury;
eye, skin burns; dermatitis; reproductive effects

 

 

central nervous system, peripheral
nervous system, cardiovascular system, eyes, kidneys, liver, skin,
reproductive system

 

 

No

 

 

3.

 

 

Bromomethane

 

 

7.50

 

 

5.20 (US EPA Region 6 Screening
Level)

 

 

1.44

 

 

A chloroform-like odour at high
concentrations

 

 

Irritation eyes, skin, respiratory system; Central Nervous
System depression; liver, kidney disease, cardiac arrest, [Potential
occupational carcinogen]

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, liver, kidneys, Cardiovascular
System, Central Nervous System

 

 

Yes

 

Known
animal carcinogen.

 

 

4.

 

 

2-Butanone

 

(Methyl
Ethyl Ketone)

 

 

110

 

 

1000 (EPA Region 6 Screening
Level)

 

 

 

 

A moderately sharp, fragrant,
mint- or acetone-like odour

 

 

Irritation eyes, skin, nose;
headache; dizziness; vomiting; dermatitis

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system,
central nervous system

 

 

No

 

 

5.

 

 

n-Hexane

 

 

17

 

 

210 (EPA Region 6 Screening Level)

 

 

 

 

A gasoline-like odour

 

 

Irritation eyes, nose; nausea,
headache; muscle weakness; dermatitis; dizziness

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system,
central nervous system, peripheral nervous system

 

 

No

 

 

6.

 

 

Benzene

 

 

9.09

 

 

0.250 (EPA Region 6 Screening
Level)

 

 

36.36

 

 

An aromatic odour

 

 

Irritation eyes, skin, nose,
dizziness; headache, nausea, exhaustion; bone marrow depression; [potential
occupational carcinogen]

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system,
blood, central nervous system, bone marrow

 

 

Yes

 

Cancer Site >[leukaemia]

 

 

7.

 

 

Toluene

 

 

66

 

 

400 (EPA Region 6 Screening Level)

 

 

 

 

A sweet, pungent, benzene-like
odour

 

 

Irritation eyes, nose; weakness,
exhaustion, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache; discharge of tears;
anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia; liver, kidney damage

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system,
central nervous system, liver, kidneys

 

 

No

 

 

8.

 

 

Ethylbenzene

 

 

6.70

 

 

1100 (EPA Region 6 Screening
Level)

 

 

 

 

An aromatic odour.

 

 

Irritation eyes, skin, mucous
membrane; headache; coma

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system,
central nervous system

 

 

No

 

 

9.

 

 

m,p- Xylenes

 

 

14.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

An aromatic odour.

 

 

Irritation eyes, skin, nose,
throat; dizziness, excitement, drowsiness, incoordination, staggering gait;
nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain; dermatitis

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system,
central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, blood, liver, kidneys

 

 

No

 

 

10.

 

 

o-Xylene

 

 

6.0

 

 

730 (EPA Region 6 Screening Level)

 

 

 

 

An aromatic odour.

 

 

Irritation eyes, skin, nose,
throat; dizziness, excitement, drowsiness, incoordination, staggering gait,
nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain

 

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system,
central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, blood, liver, kidneys

 

 

No

 

 

11.

 

 

N-Nonane

 

 

22

 

 

NA

 

 

NA

 

 

NA

 

 

NA

 

 

NA

 

 

NA

 

High Levels of Carcinogens Found after Manali Gas Leak
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