Workers, social activists and
environmentalists have voiced concern over the safety of the “idle storage of
ammonium and chloroform in two tanks” in the recently shut down SPIC Pharma
unit located on the SIPCOT Industrial Estate here.
The workers claim that the
chemicals are flammable and would even cause explosion when leak occurs in the
tanks. In such a case, they fear, it would pose a severe health hazard to the
people living in the surrounding areas.
Executive secretary of the
Consumer Federation Tamil Nadu M.Nizamudeen said that the common problem
noticed in the closed units in the industrial estate was non-clearance of the
chemical vestiges and unscientific disposal of chemical waste that were causing
intermittent fire, emitting strong stench.
He opined that the officials did
not seem to have evolved any solution for the safe disposal of the left-over
chemicals. Moreover, the personnel of the Fire Service and Rescue Department
were ill-equipped to handle the fire in a chemical unit. Therefore, the anxiety
over the impending threat from unattended chemicals was really palpable among
the residents, Mr Nizamudeen said.
When contacted, the Tamil Nadu
Pollution Control Board officials said that the storage of chemicals did not
come under their purview. The Board was dealing with pollution aspects caused
by the effluents and on the preventive measures.
The SPIC Pharma sources said that
the unit stopped production about 18 months ago and all these days the tanks
were very much there. The sources denied storage of chemicals in the tanks and
added that what was left was only vapour that could not be sucked through
pipeline but would have to be cleared through opening the lid.