Cuddalore, 10 October 2006: Almost two years after it was caught dumping hazardous waste illegally in a village near SIPCOT, Victory Chemicals has found a new way to get rid of its waste. It is now storing the hazardous waste behind its factory on the banks of River Uppanar and hoping for the river to wash it away. SACEM monitors report that the quantity of toxic waste stored in the area is constantly increasing, and is exerting tremendous pressure on the compound wall separating the plant from the river.
On December 3, 2004 the company was caught dumping its waste in a village near SIPCOT, SACEM had taken samples of the waste and had found that levels of Barium in the waste was at least 7 times higher that the safe levels prescribed by the United States Environment Protection Agency. SACEM had brought the illegal dumping to the notice of the authorities. As a result, the company was temporarily shut down. The unit was restarted in January 2005 on condition that it will effectively manage its hazardous waste. But once again the heap of toxic waste piled behind its factory points out at the failure of the unit to solve its waste problem, and the failure of the TNPCB to monitor violations.
Barium, the key contaminant in Victory’s wastes, affects the nervous system causing tremors, anxiety, weakness, cardiac disorders, and paralysis. Barium is also radioactive. Storing toxic wastes on the banks of the river is a violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification. DEPORT, a Cuddalore-based NGO, has sent a complaint to the TNPCB and the Department of Environment about the violation.