Note: At the public hearing there were testimonies by the city residents , researchers and activists. A study titled "Impact of poor solid waste management on ground water" notes that the leachate produced by waste disposal sites such as Perengudi contains a large amount of substances which are likely to contaminate ground water. The impact of such sites upon ground water can be judged by monitoring the concentration of potential contaminants at a number of specific monitoring points.
In this study, the quality of ground water around a municipal solid waste disposal site in Chennai was investigated. Chemical analyses were carried out on water samples collected at various radial distances from the boundary of the dumping yard, at intervals of 3 months and for a period of 3 years.
The study has revealed that the ground water quality does not conform to the drinking water quality standards as per Bureau of Indian Standards. The effects of dumping activity on ground water appeared most clearly as high concentrations of total dissolved solids, electrical conductivity, total hardness, chlorides, chemical oxygen demand, nitrates and sulphates. Leachate collected from the site showed presence of heavy metals. The contaminant concentrations tend to decrease, during the post monsoon season and increase, during the pre monsoon season in most of the samples.
The study clearly indicates that landfills in densely populated cities should have the ground water monitored on regular basis. Furthermore, ground water in and around the landfill sites shall not be used for drinking purposes unless it meets specific standards. Indiscriminate dumping of wastes in developed areas without proper solid waste management practices should be stopped.
The study has been published in Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.
On 6 October, The Hindu reports:
The Chennai Corporation will stop burning garbage at the Perungudi dump yard in about a fortnight, according to Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni.
He was speaking at a public hearing organised by the Madras High Court's expert committee on solid waste management at Pallikaranai on October 5.
Responding to complaints from residents of the surrounding localities, including Thoraipakkam, Perungudi, Pallikaranai and Seevaram, of health hazards faced by them due to dumping and burning of garbage, Lakhoni said steps would be taken soon to ensure that the practice was stopped.
Lakhoni said the Corporation had appointed private security personnel to prevent dumping of garbage on roads. Four to five water tankers were parked in the dump yard more than 10 days ago to control any major fire.
Sheela Rani Chunkath, convenor, expert committee, requested residents to avoid using non-biodegradable products.
Advocate T.K. Ramkumar and R. Swaminathan, retired senior scientist, National Environment Engineering Research Institute took part.
Marshland mars health, complain residents
POSING HEALTH HAZARDS : Smoke from the garbage dumped and burnt in Perungudi.
CHENNAI: The public hearing on waste dumping at Pallikaranai marshland, organised by the expert committee on solid waste management at Pallikaranai, on Sunday saw a good response from residents and environmentalists.
Initiating the meeting, Sheela Rani Chunkath, convener of the expert committee, said the Corporation Commissioner had pointed out that it was hard to entirely stop dumping operation at the Perungudi yard because of the space constraint.
Thoraipakkam resident Dheena Rajan, who works for a software company located opposite the yard, said the Perungudi sewage treatment plant was overflowing with raw sewage and had affected her well water, which had turned red in colour.
Ms. Rajan recalled an incident when she complained to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and an official asked her: “Why did you buy a house near Perungudi dump yard?”
“My husband and I suffer from rashes and suffocation because of the burning of garbage and our health, which was much better before we shifted to Thoraipakkam, has deteriorated,” she added.
S. Kumararaja, convener, Save Pallikaranai Marsh Land Forum, thanked the State Government for declaring a portion of the marsh land a protected area under the Forest Act.
He wanted the entire marsh land, including the dump yard, to be brought under the Forest Act.
In response to the suggestion from Ms. Chunkath on source segregation of waste by individual households, Mr. Kumararaja said Neel Metal Fanalca (NMF), which takes care of the conservancy operation in four zones of the city, should undertake source segregation of waste.
Producing photocopies of the agreement signed between the Chennai Corporation and the NMF, he asked what stopped the civic agency from enforcing source segregation of waste by the private conservancy operator.
S. Kannan, a resident of Rajeev Nagar, Thoraipakkam, complained that the dumping of garbage and letting out of raw sewage water had completely destroyed the environment. Mr. Kannan said: “Residents are facing big health hazards because of the environmental degradation here.”
On an average he spends Rs. 2,000 a month on medical expenses for his family, with Rs. 200 being spent a day on purchase of water for drinking, cooking and washing.
Jaysree Vencatesan, joint director, Care Earth, an environmental organisation that has undertaken studies on the Pallikaranai marsh land, spoke in detail about the history of the marsh land, which was once spread over 5,000 hectares.
It has gradually been reduced to 500 hectares because of parcelling of the marsh land to government agencies, she pointed out. She said that with the marsh land being the rain water buffer zone for south Chennai, the reduction in the size of the marsh land was also the reason for flooding of residential localities.
Gopal Krishna, an environmentalist from New Delhi, said Chennai Corporation, which was exploring production of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) pellets from garbage at the Perungudi dump yard, should rescind such a move, as it was a failure in other States.
Krishna said the compacting of waste was another way of releasing toxic fumes and affected the public health and environment.
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