Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
The pharma major, Shasun Chemicals and Drugs Ltd, has been served a notice by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) asking it to shut down the company’s plant located in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Cuddalore for not taking any measures to contain pollution, according to D Shekhar, district environment officer, Cuddalore.
The electricity connection to the unit was disconnected on Friday night after a series of failed talks with the district administration on the closure issue.
He said the plant of Shasun at the SIPCOT is more than 20 years old. It has been emitting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and foul odour into air, which have created health problems in the area. He said the department got complaints from the public and some social organizations regarding this. Raising the same issue, the TNPCB has also given another closure notice to a pesticide manufacturing company operating in the same locality.
According to sources in the TNPCB, the Shasun was given a show cause notice two months ago, but the reply the company provided was not satisfactory. “Following which we had to take action to check the emissions,” the sources said.
When sources at the Chennai office of the Shasun Chemicals refused to respond to queries from Pharmabiz, people in their Mumbai office said they are sorting out the issues to find an immediate solution. “Our Cuddalore Unit has received a closure notice from the TNPCB. We are in talks with the concerned authorities for speedy solution,” they told this correspondent.
Emission level of VOC and foul odor from both the units (Shasun and Tagore Chemicals) in the area were found to be far in excess of the approved limit. According to sources, it caused unbearable stench in the area, giving rise to strong objection from the residents and other NGOs. The officer said the study conducted by the Pollution Control Board has proved that the Units failed to keep the odor level with in their limit. The district officer asserted that only after the companies come out with crystal clear evidence to contain the emission, they would be further allowed to operate.
A study of air pollution conducted by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, in and around SIPCOT Chemical Industrial Estate, revealed that there were 94 chemicals in the ambient air, including 15 that were known hazardo
us air pollutants. The report also estimates that SIPCOT -Cuddalore residents are at least 2000 times more likely to contract cancer in their lifetimes due to their exposure to high levels of toxic gases from chemical industries in the region.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.