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Toxic Waste to Energy Plants demonstrate conflict between Kyoto Protocol & Stockholm Convention

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, May 06, 2008 | 8:11 AM

Delhi Campaign for Safe Environment (DCSE)

Press Release

Toxic Waste to Energy Plants demonstrate conflict between Kyoto Protocol & Stockholm Convention

Efforts underway to promote POPs emitting technologies for misplaced carbon credits

6/5/2008New Delhi: On the one hand Government of India has initiated a National Implementation Plan of Stockholm convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP)* as per a Press Information Bureau release today, on the other it is promoting POPs like Dioxins emitting technologies like incineration of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) that are contrary to this Convention. India is a signatory of this UN Convention.

Interestingly, the PIB release noted that that the work included “Inventory of intentionally produced POP’s including Dioxin, furans and PCBs in air, water, land, waste, stock and regulatory mechanism and infrastructure capacity.” An Inception Workshop for the development of a National Implementation Plan of Stockholm convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) was organized today as a first step to prepare implementation mechanism in India.

It is noteworthy that Union Minister of Renewable Energy has already announced 31 such projects in the parliament although Supreme Court 's last order in Writ Petition (Civil) 888 of 1996 based on court's Waste to Energy Committee's report. The incinerator based WTE projects in Delhi are in violation of the court order and sets a bad precedent. These projects demonstrate a case of conflict between Kyoto Protocol and Stockholm Convention. There are efforts underway to push these hazardous technologies to earn misplaced carbon credits.
Dioxins emitting technology-based waste to energy (WTE) projects that are coming up in the residential areas of Timarpur, Okhla (Sukhdev Vihar) and Ghazipur in the Delhi is contrary to even the National Environmental Policy, 2006 and ignores grave public health concerns that have inter-generational health impacts. It is fraught with disastrous consequences for public health. Delhi Campaign for Safe Environment (DCSE), a coalition of environmental researchers and the concerned residents have denounced the proposed plants.
Unmindful of the violation of Stockholm convention, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has announced that it plans to undertake POPs emitting projects in Timarpur, Okhla (Sukhdev Vihar) and Ghazipur to earn carbon credits. MCD's own Waste Master Plan says that RDF is a polluting technology that is adopted in countries whose environmental standards are lax.
The use of RDF implies burning of mixed waste including plastics and paper. As per the Municipal Waste Handling and Management Rules, the combustion of PVC plastics is banned. In the making of RDF, we see no practical possibility of PVC plastics being segregated (from other plastics) in the waste stream since there is no labeling of such plastics as PVC or non-PVC, nor are PVC plastics picked out separately by waste pickers. In fact they pick out all plastics. (please also see para 6). Ban on the burning of PVC has a sound technical basis. Burning PVC emits POPs.
Referring among other things to the originally failed Timarpur incineration plant, a 'White Paper on Pollution in Delhi with an Action Plan' prepared by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests said this: "The experience of the incineration plant at Timarpur, Delhi and the briquette plant at Bombay support the fact that thermal treatment of municipal solid waste is not feasible, in situations where the waste has a low calorific value. A critical analysis of biological treatment as an option was undertaken for processing of municipal solid waste in Delhi and it has been recommended that composting will be a viable option. Considering the large quantities of waste requiring to be processed, a mechanical composting plant will be needed."
"The Okhla Waste-to-Energy Plant is being located inside dozens of densely populated residential colonies. When the policy of the government is to shift or relocate all existing industries whatsoever from the residential areas, Why double standards? This is surely going to have serious health hazards for all the residents for all times to come. There is a lot of resentments and unhappiness because no voice is being raised against this project, which is being projected through the media as an environmentally sustainable project by the stakeholders," said affected residents like Anil Misra, P K Nayyar, Shahid Hasan, S C Sarin, Air Comdr (Rtd.) S C Mehra and N Aggarwal.besides more than 200 people who have signed a letter opposing the project.
As of May, 2008 the Project Design Documents of the proposed plants the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and MNRE are promoting the proposed a 16 MW WTE plant. The MCD proposes to deliver waste for free and even the New Delhi Municipal Council is joining the bandwagon as well. The project is located within the city across 18 acres of land in Okhla and Timarpur. The construction should have started this very month as per the document submitted to the CDM Executive Board. The proposed project includes two MSW processing plants at Okhla and Timarpur. Besides the Timarpur-Okhla projects, "Unique Waste Processing Company", a subsidiary of ILFS Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited has floated "East Delhi Waste Processing Company Private Limited" as a special purpose vehicle for incinerating refuse derived fuel (RDF to generate electricity at the Ghazipur site.
Besides persistent organic pollutants (POPs) listed for elimination under the United Nations's Stockholm Convention on POPs, heavy metals like Mercury are also emitted. POPs like Dioxins and furans are a family of potent endocrine disruptors in miniscule quantities (parts per trillion) and cancer causing that enters the food chain. They can impact whole populations and lead to congenital disorders, since they pass on from mother to child. Waste incineration is one of the key sources of dioxins worldwide.
For details: Gopal Krishna, DCSE E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com, Mb: 98180896609, Dr Sudhirendar Sharma, 9868384744, Ravi Agarwal, 011-24328006, Dr Syamala Mani, 9811428447
*The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was adopted in the Conference of Plenipotentiaries held at Stockholm on 22-23 May, 2001. It focuses on reducing and eliminating the production/use and release of 12 chemicals include – aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans and continued use of DDT. The Stockholm Convention has come into force for India on April 13, 2006. India signed the Convention on 14th May, 2002. GEF has sanctioned US $ 3,074,700 for India’s National Implementation Plan (NIP) Project with project duration of two years. The Project documents has been signed on 8th November, 2007 by GEF Operation Focal Points in India.
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