VIJAYAWADA: On the directions of the State government, the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) is going to constitute an expert committee to study whether the groundwater is getting polluted at Tummalapalle and surrounding villages in Vemula mandal of Kadapa district due to seepage from the tailing pond of Uranium mines of Uranium Corporation of India Limited.
During a meeting with APPCB officials, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy directed them to constitute an experts’ committee to study the impact of the reported pollution from the Uranium mine in view of the complaints from residents in Vemula mandal.
The experts’ panel, which is expected to be constituted in three days, will have members from National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), AP Groundwater department, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, AP Mines and Geology Department, Agriculture Department and IIT-Tirupati. The panel is expected to submit its report in 10 days.
On June 21, 2018, Kadapa MP YS Avinash Reddy and retired chief scientist of Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) K Babu Rao lodged a complaint with the APPCB stating that required standards and proper designing and planning were missing in the construction of the tailing pond of the Uranium mine. Based on the complaint, the APCCB issued certain directives, but the same were not taken into consideration by the Uranium Corporation of Indian Limited (UCIL). Taking serious note of the issue, the APPCB issued a showcause notice to the UCIL on August 7, 2019. As UCIL maintained that precautionary measures taken by the company are sufficient, the Chief Minister directed the APPCB to form an expert committee.
According to APPCB officials, though the tailing pond was lined with Bentonite to prevent seepage of the chemicals into the ground, as a precautionary measure, the APCCB recommended for lining the thickened tailings disposal areas with a layer of 250 micron polyethylene with an adequate protective layer of clay or sand of 250 mm.
They also suggested that tailings pond should be provided with a holding pond to collect drainage and rainfall precipitation.
The water from holding pond should be pumped to a treatment plant and care should be taken to ensure water does not escape from the pond, the PCB suggested.