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SCMC directs HLL to clean up mercury contamination

News India
Friday October 8 2004

CHENNAI: In a major crack-down on polluting industries, the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on hazardous waste has directed the multi-national Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) to clean up the mercury contamination in the tourist town of Kodaikanal at an estimated cost of Rs 50 crore.

After visiting HLL's thermometer factory at Kodaikanal, where "uncontrolled" releases of toxic mercury into the working and natural environment had been reported, the SCMC told the company to clean up the hazardous wastes or face the consequences.

It directed HLL to deposit the cost with the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) in the form of a revolving bank guarantee, with a condition that at any given time, a sum of Rs ten crore would be available at the disposal of TNPCB.

In a report submitted to the state government and the TNPCB, details of which were made available to the media, the SCMC had come down heavily

on hazardous industries and categorically stated that they should either clean up the hazardous wastes or shut down their units.

The SCMC said during the visit, it was found that HLL had dumped about 7.4 tonnes hazardous wastes of mercury contamination in the working area of the factory and its surrounding natural environment including a river, lake and forest.

On reports of "gas trouble" by units in the Tamil Nadu State Industrial Promotion Corporation (SIPCOT) at Cuddalore, the committee said it had recognised gaseous emissions from industries as hazardous waste. It ordered strict monitoring and compliance of standards of gaseous emissions for the next three months, failing which the SCMC would order closure of all industries in that area.

The committee rejected the proposal of setting up of hazardous waste treatment storage disposal facility at Melakottaiyur in the district and had asked TNPCB to look into options within industrial estates, the report said.

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