Fluoride Action Network

Hindalco: Waste water with high concentration of fluoride and cyanide

Source: Express News Service (India) | SPCB pulls up Hindalco | December 25th, 2008
Location: India
Industry type: Aluminum Industry

SAMBALPUR: Notwithstanding numerous notices served by State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), aluminum producer Hindalco has failed to act on hazardous waste management. The wastes are reportedly generated by Hindalco’s aluminium smelter plant. An SPCB team pulled up the plant for its failure to curb pollution after a recent visit. The team found that waste water with high concentration of fluoride and cyanide was being released to river Mahanadi through Khajur nullah.

Previously Indal, the plant has been operating at Hirakud since 1959. Although Hindalco underwent modernisation to increase the production capacity from 65,000 tonnes per annum (TPA) to 1 lakh TPA and generate captive power, it did not adhere to laid-down guidelines under hazardous waste management forcing the SPCB to depute a team to the plant on September 27. The visit came after as many as seven notices to comply with laid-down guidelines were overlooked and compliance was not made.

The team, during its visit, found that although Hindalco had been asked to reuse the waste water after treatment, it was directly releasing the same through three outlets. Moreover, it was found that leachate generated from the two old spent pot line (SPL) with high concentration of fluoride and cyanide was also directly released into Khajur Nullah. This apart open dumping of hazardous waste and storing of high fluoride-containing materials in open were found ‘posing serious threat to groundwater’.

The team detected that highly hazardous pot room waste, including carbonate waste and fluoride, were being dumped (4,000 tonnes) clandestinely inside plantation area by digging pits. However, vice-president, Smelter, Hindalco, S K Guru feigned ignorance about disposal of the hazardous waste.

The team pulled up Hindalco for its failure to act on hazardous waste management and observed that damage to paddy crops in the vicinity of the plant is due to the fluoride emission from the pot room smelter unit.