Experts: Bhopal waste can cause another disaster

Waste from the Bhopal gas tragedy that might be disposed at Taloja can cause genetic disorders, and even a minor error could have disastrous consequence. State pollution control board officials oppose it being brought to the city

The toxic waste from the Bhopal gas tragedy, which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently proposed to dispose off at the Mumbai Waste Management Limited in Taloja MIDC in Navi Mumbai could lead to another disaster, claim activists and experts.

Satinath Sarangi. Pic/ Sameer Markande

"The toxic waste lying in Bhopal contained toxic materials like dioxine, furins, halogenated nitrates, organic chlorinated chains and we are not sure what additional toxic compounds have developed in the past few years. Any exposure to these materials can lead to cancer and genetic disorders. Therefore, transferring the waste without a proper disposal facility and without good arrangements could cause another disaster," Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) said.

Local leaders in Navi Mumbai have asked the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to stop the waste from entering into Navi Mumbai. Prashant Thakur, MLA (party) from Panvel said, "Why should we face risks involved in the disposal of the waste when it has nothing to do with our area. I have written to the chief minister asking him to oppose the move. He has assured us that he will look into the matter." Mumbai Waste Management Limited authorities were unavailable for comment.

Earlier the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had attempted to transfer the toxic waste to the Defence Research and Development Organisation's waste disposal facility in Nagpur but backed off after facing stiff opposition from the locals. CPCB then decided to shift the waste to Taloja MIDC in Navi Mumbai. CPCB officials allegedly didn't consult the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board before taking the decision and experts aren't sure if the Navi Mumbai incinerator has the capacity to deal with the carcinogenic waste.

"We have been carrying out various tests on the toxic waste and trying to find out whether it can be disposed at the facility in Taloja MIDC. We are not sure if the facility in Taloja is compatible for the disposal of the waste. The decision will be taken after the trial. However, we have not finalised the facility in Taloja for the disposal as consultations on the same are underway," said JS Kamyotra, secretary of CPCB.

Transport is another issue of concern that the CPCB must consider before taking a decision. "CPCB does not have a full proof transport mechanism to transfer the waste to any waste disposal facility and CPCB has not done a feasibility study of disposing the waste before transferring it," Sarangi claimed.

Sarangi suggests using international resources to deal with the waste. "Rather than trying to deal with the waste in any Indian facility, CPCB should attempt to dispose this waste off in advanced waste disposal facilities in countries like Canada, Denmark and Germany. And CPCB should ask DOW Chemical Company to bear the expenses as its subsidiary was responsible for the disaster in Bhopal," he says.

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