12,000 People Live Close to Stored Ammonium Nitrate: TNPCB Report
The nearest residential locality is Manali New Town 700 m away with 7,000 persons & Sadayankuppam with 5,000 people.
Just a day after the Customs Department stated that 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a hazardous chemical, is ‘safely stored’ in a Chennai depot and there are no residential localities within a two-kilometre radius, an inspection by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s (TNPCB) has revealed some contradicting claims.
The board had conducted the inspection on 6 August following the orders from the state government at the custom bonded warehouse of M/s Sattva Container Freight Station (CFS) in Door No, 126 A, Ponneri High Road, Manali, Thiruvottiyur Taluk, Chennai.
The report stated that the warehouse is about 18 acres, surrounded by Container Freight Stations.
Here are four noteworthy findings from the report:
1. Residential Localities Less Than 1 Kilometre Away
The nearest residential locality is Manali New Town at a distance of 700 m with a population of about 7,000 and the Sadayankuppam village 1,500 m away with a population of over 5,000, the report read.
This is in contrast to the notice issued on Thursday by the customs department that had stated that the Container Freight Station (CFS) in Manali, is located approximately 20 km away from the city and there is no residential locality within 2 kilometre of the CFS.
2. Stored in Sattva Container Freight Stations Since 2015
Supported by pictures, the report stated that there are 37 number of MS containers each having 20 tonnes, totally 740T of ammonium nitrate, which was reported to be stored within the premises of Sattva Container Freight stations.
The ammonium nitrate was transported from the Chennai port and stored in the premises since 27 September 2015 in crystallised form in 25kg polypropylene bags. It was confiscated from Sri Amman Chemicals, Karur over legal issues.
Chennai customs had seized the imported chemical due to import policy restrictions prescribed by the Government of India under the Customs Act 1962 read with Explosive Act 1884 and Ammonium Nitrate rules, 2012, a notice from the customs department had stated.
3. Bidding to be Completed in 3 Days
The customs officials had denied any delay in disposal. “The process of disposal of the said cargo is taken up promptly by the customs and e-auction has already been completed. The disposal of the said cargo will be done within short period, following all safety measures,” a notice read.
The TNPCB report, too, confirmed that the bidding has been called for and that process will be completed in three days.
4. Call For Immediate Clearance
The TNPCB recommended that as per the directions under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, immediate action needs to be taken by the customs department to clear the stored chemical.
It directed the District Industrial Safety and Health, Guindy to inspect the CFS and take necessary action as per the provisions of the Manufacture Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules 1989.
It also directed Sattva CFS station to engage security personnel to safeguard the area till the clearance of the chemical.
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