CHENNAI: For the past five years, Sterlite Copper’s smelter plant in Thoothukudi has been disposing of thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste without authorisation, says the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) order turning down Sterlite’s application to renew its Consent to Operate (CTO).
This was one of five key grounds on which the plea was rejected, the order, accessed by Express, revealed.
The order says authorisation issued to the unit on July 10, 2008 expired on July 9, 2013, but it continued to generate and dispose of hazardous waste without valid authorisation under Hazardous and Other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016.
“The (renewal) application... has been returned for want of additional details and the unit has not resubmitted the same,” the order dated April 9 reads. Activists allege TNPCB has still renewed the unit’s CTO three times since 2013. The other grounds on which TNPCB rejected the CTO renewal plea are that Sterlite had not furnished analysis of heavy metals in the ambient air. Further, a ground water analysis report from borewells within the unit as well as surrounding areas was not furnished.
The order said the unit had not removed copper slag dumped/stored along the Uppar and on patta land, thereby obstructing flow. It had also failed to construct any physical barrier between the Uppar and slag land fill area so as to prevent slag from reaching the river. Also, during inspection on April 22 2017, the unit was directed to construct a gypsum pond, but had not done so as of March 31, 2018. Efforts to reach a Sterlite spokesperson for a response proved futile.