CUSECS leaks once again

Cuddalore, February 14, 2008 -- Living up to its reputation of being a repeat environmental offender, the common effluent collection and forwarding facility CUSECS sprung a leak near the Thamaraikulam (Lotus Pond) of Karaikadu. The leak occurred within an inspection tank built over CUSECS pipelines. The inspection tank was filled to overflowing with toxic effluents that entered the pond and enclosed the area where a public drinking water tap is located.

The District Environmental Engineer of Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board was available on site. He left after a septic tank cleaning tanker truck pumped in the effluents and carried it to an undisclosed location, and after fresh earth was spread over the flooded area. No clean-up was conducted and no information is available as to where the tanker truck disposed of the effluents. CUSECS officials said the effluents had spilled from an old pipe that is currently not being used. They had no satisfactory explanation for how an old unused pipe could contain so much residual effluents, and develop sufficient pressure to spring a leak. The TNPCB, however, seemed satisfied with the explanation.

CUSECS was responsible for 4 out of 6 instances of effluent spill in Cuddalore in 2007, and has been identified as a repeat offender in the Scorecard of Hazardous Incidents in SIPCOT Cuddalore, released by the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring.

CUSECS is an illegal operation with no permission to be established or operate under the Air and Water Act. As a facility that discharges inadequately treated effluents into sea, CUSECS also violates the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, and has no environmental clearance under the CRZ Notification from the Ministry of Environment & Forests. No procedural or punitive actions have been taken by the TNPCB or the MoEF.