Widespread air pollution in Cuddalore SIPCOT

Special Correspondent
The Hindu
Tamil Nadu

12 toxic gases present in air

CHENNAI: The SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM) on Monday claimed that 12 toxic gases were present in the air around the government industrial estate at Cuddalore.

Hence, air in the Cuddalore SIPCOT chemical industrial estate is still not fit to breathe, says `Gas Trouble II: Air quality status and assessment of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s compliance to the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee Order,’ a report prepared by the SACEM.

The SACEM analysed four samples of ambient air taken using the ‘bucket sampler’ between October 2004 and March 2005. India did not have standards for safe ambient air, SACEM members said at a press conference here. As per the United States laws, at least seven of the gases were far over the emission norms of that country.

Chemicals, including Carbon disulphide, bromomethane, trichloroethene, 4-methyl 2-pentanone, acrolein, methylene chloride and hydrogen sulphide, were found between two and 900 times above the safe levels prescribed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The members said the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on hazardous wastes ordered that the U.S. EPA screening levels be used until the Centre set the ambient air quality standards for toxic gases.

SACEM’s September 2004 report, which found 22 volatile organic compounds and sulphur gases in ambient air, prompted the SCMC to order the TNPCB to bring air pollution levels in the SIPCOT, Cuddalore, to the U.S. EPA levels by June 2005, the organisation said.

The organisation alleged that the TNPCB had taken no step to curb air pollution. The TNPCB announced no air monitoring studies or other measures.

Board disputes findings

Dismissing the charges, the TNPCB officials said the Board was working in all industrial complexes to ensure air pollution was within permissible limits. For instance, the Manali chemical complex was functioning within the norms. Hence, it was wrong to say the Board did not take any action in chemical industrial estates. “If we have a study conducted by a competent authority and if it suggests new measures, the Board is willing to consider them,” a top official said. The TNPCB was open to discussions and suggestions. Recommendations should be practicable and should not be aimed at finding fault with one agency or organisation.

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Widespread air pollution in Cuddalore SIPCOT
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