‘Off-site, on-site emergency plans essential for factories’
A strategic environment impact assessment carried out by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) in the aftermath of the oil spill at the Travancore Titanium Products Ltd. (TTP) has pointed to the need for chemical spill contingency plans for the State, districts and factories.
On February 10 this year, hundreds of litres of furnace oil had spilled into the coast following a pipeline rupture at TTP, Kochu Veli, sparking environmental concerns and a public outcry. “The State Pollution Control Board (PCB) along with the Coast Guard must develop a detailed oil contingency plan for the State by considering the existing system in Kerala and with the help of all stakeholders. Contingency plans should be developed for State, districts and companies. Off-site and on-site emergency plans are essential for chemical factories,” says the report prepared by the Kerala State Emergency Operations Centre, KSDMA. Such contingency plans need to be updated annually, it adds.
It further recommends that discharges from factories into public areas should be strictly prohibited. Local emergency teams should be formed in all factories with the help of volunteers for tackling emergencies.
Oil spills can have disastrous long-term impact on the environment and human activities. Mousse, the emulsified mixture of water and oil, becomes even stickier than oil, causing it to stick to organisms and materials much more readily. Citing studies, the report warns that oil spills can pollute groundwater, wells, and, in the coast, pose a threat to marine life.
The KSDMA report recommends the establishment of a separate mechanism by the PCB and the Factories and Boilers Department for funding emergency responses to oil spills. Furthermore, it should be ensured that victims of such mishaps benefit under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
The report criticised TTP for failing to have “an on-site or off-site oil spill contingency plan,” despite the State government undertaking possessing the capability to produce 40-45 tonnes of titanium dioxide daily. The oil spill resulted in the contamination of the seashore, the report pointed out.
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