Ennore firm can restart operations after getting NOC: National Green Tribunal

The company has also been directed to strictly follow the recommendations made by the technical committee of the TNPCB.
Police personnel stand guard outside a plant of Coromandel International Ltd, a fertilizer manufacturing company, after an incident of ammonia gas leakage at the factory, at Ennore in Chennai district, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023.
Police personnel stand guard outside a plant of Coromandel International Ltd, a fertilizer manufacturing company, after an incident of ammonia gas leakage at the factory, at Ennore in Chennai district, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023.(Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Delivering its judgment in the Ennore ammonia gas leak case, the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday allowed Coromandel International Ltd (CIL) to restart ammonia offshore pipeline activity after obtaining a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH) and subject to approvals from the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board (TNMB) and Indian Register of Shipping.

The green bench directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to closely monitor CIL’s activities, and asked DISH and TNMB to inspect the unit thoroughly before issuing NOC and approvals for restarting operation. The company has also been directed to strictly follow the recommendations made by the technical committee of the TNPCB. The bench of Justices Pushpa Sathyanarayana and K Satyagopal also directed the TNPCB to use Rs 5.92 crore compensation collected from the firm for environmental damage mitigation in Ennore industrial area.

The company shut down its ammonia offshore pipeline activity, based on TNPCB’s notice, after a gas leak on December 26 left Ennore residents with breathing difficulties, eye irritation, and vomiting, and led to hospitalisation of at least 54 people. About 1,860 fish valued at Rs 46,750 also washed ashore after the gas leak.

NGT had taken suo motu cognisance of the issue based on reports in newspapers including TNIE. During the proceedings, government pleader D Shanmugananthan had argued for levy of an additional penalty on the company as per the ‘polluter pays’ principle, but it was rejected by the bench.

CIL complying with directions: Bench

Based on submissions made by all parties, the bench noted that CIL was complying with directions issued and had taken precautionary measures.

The company had submitted to the National Green Tribunal that it would organise inspection of the entire ammonia related process equipment by a competent person and submit a report to DISH before requesting NOC for restarting the plant.

A technical audit in January conducted by Thyssenkrupp Uhde, external expert engaged by CIL, showed that the “incident was an accident” which occurred despite “best measures and safety protocols in place” the private firm had said in its submission to NGT.

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