Mettur, 14 August, 2009 – Giving the lie to Chemplast Sanmar’s claim of Zero Liquid discharge from its chemical facilities in Mettur, the company was caught red-handed last night while discharging highly toxic pollutants into the River Kaveri. Chemplast Sanmar operates four unlicensed chemical plants in Mettur. The four units do not have valid Consent to Operate from the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board. Farmers accosted TNPCB assistant environmental engineer when he was on a routine inspection of factories in Mettur and took him to various spots where the company’s effluents were being illegally discharged. In November 2007, Chemplast Sanmar claimed that all its facilities in Mettur were to go “zero discharge” from January 2008.
The effluent discharge pipes in Kaveri’s surplus course from Chemplast’s Plant III were found to be discharging untreated effluents. The TNPCB engineer clarified that the company had sent a request to discharge treated effluents from its Reverse Osmosis plant as the plant was on trial for three days. However, spot samples taken by the engineer revealed that the effluents were toxic. The effluents were highly alkaline with pH ranging between 9 and 10. Total dissolved solids were detected at 2330, well above 2100 the permissible level for treated effluents.
Apart from the discharge at River Kaveri, farmers also guided the Assistant Engineer to two other locations where the company’s effluents were illegally being discharged. Samples were taken from both locations — one from an open stream leaving Chemplast’s PVC plant (Plant II) and running through a thickly populated area before discharging into the Kaveri; and the other from an open stream running through the Green Park area. Intense chemical odour and foam were observed at the open stream in Green Park area. This stream eventually opens up into the River Kaveri. The open stream leaving Chemplast Sanmar Plant 2 also gave out a strong chemical odour. Tests revealed that the pH was between 9 and 10 and the Total Dissolved Solids was at 3220.
Farmers said they have lodged numerous complaints with the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board regarding illegal discharges and about Chemplast Sanmar’s unlicensed operations. On 28 July, 2009, farmers from Mettur met TNPCB member secretary Mr. Ramachandran and complained to him about the fact that Chemplast was running units without valid licenses under the Air and Water Act. Mr. Ramachandran said “It is not that they do not have licenses. It is just that they have not updated it.”
Farmers have requested a hearing with the TNPCB before the Board decides on renewing the company’s license. “We have little hopes with the Board. We think they are insincere and are working with the company to make fools of us,” said G. Madeshwaran, secretary of Gonur West Agriculturists Development Union. “Mr. Ramachandran treated our complaint very casually. We know he will do nothing to jeopardise the company’s interest.”
Farmers have said they will file a complaint against the Member Secretary and the TNPCB with the Government of Tamilnadu and the Ministry of Environment & Forests.
Since January 2008, there have been numerous documented instances that highlight the hollowness of Chemplast Sanmar’s zero discharge claim.
Community environmental monitors have documented and reported incidents of leaks from effluent pipelines, discharge through open streams and illegal dumping of effluents using tanker lorries. Regular monitoring has shown that effluents are still being released through the company’s Kaveri outfall.
On 10.02.08 and 06.03.08, community environmental monitors detected and reported Chemplast effluents spilling out of a broken pipeline near Mettur Railway Station. The pipeline was carrying foul-smelling, dark-coloured liquid effluents at the time. Read complete story at sipcotcuddalore.com/updates_100208.html
On 11.03.09, a tanker carrying effluents from Chemplast’s Plant I was caught red-handed while discharging its contents into a water body that drains into the River Kaveri. Police refused to register a complaint and allowed the tanker owner to take the tanker out of the station after political heavyweights from the Pattali Makkal Katchi intervened on behalf of the tanker owner. Read complete story at