‘Fly ash from Singrauli power plant poses threat’
In yet another stark example of massive negligence, the mud wall that lined the fly ash dyke of Essar Energy’s Mahan-I (600MW) thermal power plant in Singrauli has collapsed leading to fly ash-laden water seeping into Khairahi village. Greenpeace demands that Essar should take full responsibility of the fly ash spill in the region and shut down its plant immediately.
This is the second instance in a matter of a few months. In September last year, the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board’s (MPPCB) regional office in Singrauli reported that large quantities of fly ash was flowing from the plant into the Garha stream and surrounding areas. In January, this year, MPPCB had ordered the plant to be shut down because of this overflow. But the company managed to restart operations soon without putting any safeguards in place.
Campaigner with Greenpeace, India Aishwarya Madineni, said, “Fly ash from the coal power plants has been a perennial problem for the residents of Singrauli. And the recent leakage of toxic fly ash from the Essar Power Plant in Mahan is simply unacceptable. Fly ash contains harmful heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead that can cause direct harm to the health of the people and the environment.”
“Spilling of fly ash laden water is the worst form of water pollution. With the breaking of the fly ash dyke, water can also seep into the ground water system, rendering the water in wells and other water sources absolutely unfit for consumption. This way they enter into our food chain,” says Shripad Dharmadhikary, founder of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra.
Recent reports had highlighted mercury poisoning in the region. Both fish and human blood samples were found to have high levels of mercury in it. Mercury is a heavy metal associated with neurotoxicity and it is one of the major components that constitute fly ash.
While Essar’s new ash dyke is still under construction, Dharmadhikary points out that “to prevent such spills, the fly ash dykes have been directed to be lined properly. Unfortunately, power plants seldom comply with this rule.”
Apart from heavy metals, fly ash is also suspected to have radioactive properties, which can cause genetic mutations. This precarious disposal of fly ash endangers the lives and livelihoods of all people living in the region.
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