Corporate pollution

Posted by Sokari Ekine

http://www.newint.org/blog/majority/2009/05/07/corporate-pollution/ 

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The trial of Chevron Oil last December and the forthcoming trial of Shell – who are charged with contributing to environmental destruction in Nigeria as well as being complicit in the state murder of Ogoni activist, Ken Saro Wiwa – are two landmark cases that have tried to call multinationals to account for their actions in the developing world. These two cases are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploitation and human rights violations: from children in theDRC being used to work the coltan mines (coltan is used in video games and mobile phones) to mining violations in Ghana’s gold mines, Angola’s diamond mines and Zambia’s copper mines.

Angola is a particularly nasty case not just because of the exploitation and human rights violations of workers there but also because of the connection with illegal settlements in the West Bank and rogue landlords in New York. Behind this spider’s web is Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev.

Leviev owns Alluvial, one of the main diamond mining operations in Angola. Thousands work in mines in Angola, often in dangerous conditions, largely unregulated and digging with their bare hands, while standing in dirty muddy water.

Angolan journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques has documented human rights violations [Operation Kissonde] and the impact of diamond mining on one million people in Angola. The violations by private security firms for the mines are described as sadistic:

‘[They] include beating their victims on the buttocks, undressing them and making them circulate naked or semi-naked in public, as well as other rituals of humiliation. They use, as distinct instruments of torture, shovels, or the handles of shovels, clubs and machetes. In the particular case of (security firm) Alfa-5, various cases have been documented in which the victims are forced to carry out homosexual acts. In one particular case, a son-in-law was forced to violate his father-in-law.’

At the same time, Leviev is alleged to be behind the construction of illegal homes in the West Bank of Palestine. As a measure of the serious violations against the Palestinian people, the British Government took the decision to boycott Leviev in March this year. A press release byone on-line organization claimed:

‘Leviev’s companies have built Jewish-only homes on occupied Palestinian land in the Israeli settlements of Zufim, Mattityahu East, Har Homa and Maale Adumim, impoverishing villages like Bil’in and Jayyous and violating international law. Leviev also funded the settlement organization the Land Redemption Fund. In December, the Israeli financial journal Globes published an expose of Leviev’s serious human rights abuses and failure to fully comply with the Kimberley Process in Angola. And in Namibia, Leviev recently fired around 200 striking diamond polishers, some of whom were already struggling to survive on less than $2 per day.’

Ghana is presently on the edge of a biodiversity disaster as mining companies such as Anglo Gold Ashanti (AGA), Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) and Newmont Gold Ghana (NGG)Bogoso Gold Limited Bogoso Gold Limited

They continue to operate without consideration for land or people. The use of toxic chemicals from the mining has led to contaminated water supplies. The forests, which have been reduced from 8.3 million hectares in 1957 to a mere 1.2 million today, contain over 700 varieties of trees, plants, birds and animals, all at risk of being destroyed forever.

Biodiversity is being threatend everywhere, even in our landscape development, but what we are concerned about is the impact that such activity would have on the biodiversity,’ confirms biodiversity expert, Professor Alfred Oteng Yeboah. ‘Mining as an extractive activity destroys, therefore when mining is taking place in areas containing very important natural Ghanaian biological resources, that activity limits the extension of those particular biological resources.’

For example, Bogoso Gold has one of the worst records of environmental damage and human rights violations in Ghana, according to Mining Watch. They have damaged five rivers, cocoa farms and are responsible for cyanide spillages in their area of operation. The situation in Ghana is hardly different from that of the Niger Delta or Angola. In each country, the multinationals behave like bullies towards the local communities, refuse to meet international standards of mining and pollution as well as human rights. The state governments are equally culpable in that they fail to strengthen the environmental laws or even enforce those that exist, whilst the rights of communities are tossed aside.

To return to Shell and other oil multinationals operating in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Nnimmo Bassey of the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) Nigeria recently reported that there were over 1000 oil spills a year in the region:

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‘Between 1981 and 1994 Nigeria has been said to have lost 3.7 million hectares of forest and farmlands to erosion and other forms of soil degradation. About 285,000 Km2, or just under a third of Nigeria’s land area, has been lost to this phenomenon over the past three decades.

‘The situation is not only dangerous for agriculture in terms of lost farmland, there is also the threat of significant but adverse changes in weather and the soil system.’

The trial of Chevron Nigeria, Shell Nigeria and the ongoing bribery investigation of US company Halliburton in respect of a contract to build a liquid gas oil refinery in Nigeria are all evidence that at least in Nigeria the commons are fighting back. It’s only a matter of time before other communities in Africa’s mining and agricultural sector will also pursue justice through the courts.

http://www.newint.org/blog/majority/2009/05/07/corporate-pollution/

The Toxic Ten

by Harry Hurt III Feb 19 2008

That old corporate demon Wal-Mart is preaching renewable energy. DuPont is pioneering corn-based bioplastics. General Electric‘s NBC Universal unit turned off the lights in its studio smack in the middle of aSunday Night Football broadcast last season and urged viewers to do the same in their homes.

Most major American corporations are trying to board the environmental bandwagon, and practically any C.E.O. can expound on the threat of global climate change and the virtues of sustainable growth. But what does all this corporate green really mean?

Condé Nast Portfolio decided to take a closer look (see our coverage of the "green" trend). Concerned that many corporate environmental efforts may be degenerating into self-serving marketing stunts, we endeavored to separate the admirable (Whole Foods‘ purchase of enough wind-energy credits to offset 100 percent of its electricity use) from the laughable (the "green" holiday window display at Barneys department store last Christmas that recommended such must-have gifts as "a Prius in a pear tree").
Our team consulted dozens of government agencies, court records, and environmental watchdog groups. We also spoke extensively with representatives from the corporations themselves. We looked at firms in a variety of industries, not just the traditional smokestack polluters. This process, though informed by scientific data, contains a heavy dose of subjective judgment. Consequently, neither our Toxic 10 list of offenders nor our Green 11 roster of good guys should be seen as empirical rankings. These are merely companies that we think could be doing better, given their resources and position in their industries, or those that deserve to be commended. We hope our findings will inspire lively debate and, most of all, some serious thought about what corporations can do to really make a difference for the environment.

J.R. Simplot Co.

Headquarters: Boise, Idaho
Revenue: $11.9 billion1
Last summer, the E.P.A. determined that a Simplot factory was the main source of a potentially deadly amount of phosphorus dumped into the Portneuf River.
Simplot produces more than 3 billion pounds of french fries annually and supplies McDonald’s with over half of its potato inventory. But some of the company’s nonedible products—including phosphate, phosphorus, and nitrate compounds—have made it infamous among environmentalists. For decades, Simplot has stored the waste by-products from its Pocatello, Idaho, fertilizer factory in an unlined stockpile that has contaminated the surrounding groundwater and polluted the nearby Portneuf River with a mixture of toxins, including arsenic and nitrate. Although Simplot has worked to clean up the site, which is listed as a Superfund site, it has also continued to operate the fertilizer plant.
Not only does Simplot process the fertilizer, it also mines the phosphate ore that makes it, a practice that has contaminated southeastern Idaho with mining waste and selenium, a natural trace element that can be deadly in large quantities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of harmful air pollutants from Simplot’s Superfund site. In 2004, the company’s silica-sand-mining facility in Overton, Nevada, was fined $500,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to control its sulfur-dioxide emissions. The facility was required to install $2 million worth of pollution-control equipment as well.
What the company says: Simplot understands that certain groups will be upset by its phosphate mining and is working with the government to clean up its sites.

Cargill

Headquarters: Minneapolis
Revenue: $88.3 billion
A Cargill plant in Virginia has been overwhelming wastewater-treatment facilities, causing the dumping of toxic substances into the North Fork Shenandoah River.
Cargill’s corn-processing plants have been significant sources of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (which can cause cancer), and smog. The company is now working to comply with a settlement it entered into with the E.P.A. and the Justice Department in 2005 that requires it to spend an estimated $130 million to clean up its plants. Cargill has spent most of the past decade battling lawsuits over the dumping of residue from salt production into a holding pond in a wildlife preserve near San Francisco Bay. Last spring, a U.S. appeals court overturned previous rulings against Cargill on a technicality, saying that the polluted pond isn’t covered by the federal Clean Water Act because it doesn’t seep into navigable waterways. Last summer, the E.P.A. determined that a former Cargill plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, had contaminated the community’s groundwater and said it would take up to 30 years to eliminate the contamination.
What the company says: Cargill says it has consistently tried to act in an environmentally responsible way and that private wastewater-treatment plants are to blame for discharges into Virginia’s North Fork Shenandoah River.

Ford Motor

Headquarters: Dearborn, Michigan
Revenue: $172.5 billion
Ford has contributed waste to 40 Superfund sites.
Ford set out to be a leader in greening the auto industry, becoming the first U.S. carmaker to offer a hybrid S.U.V., with its 2004 Escape. The company also recently announced a more fuel-efficient car engine. But the automaker had the second-worst fleetwide gas-mileage rating in both 2006 and 2007, according to the E.P.A. And in 2006, Ford withdrew its guarantee that it would manufacture a quarter of a million hybrid vehicles annually by 2010, opting instead to explore alternative energy sources. Ford recently created the world’s largest living-grass rooftop on its Dearborn plant, but the lawn crowns a factory that produces one of the least fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, the F-150. Ford cleaned up its 500-acre Superfund site in Upper Ringwood, New Jersey, in 1994, but the E.P.A. relisted it in 2006—the only time the agency has relisted a site—when tests found that paint sludge still contaminated the area.

What the company says:
Ford says it takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and is committed to creating a better and more sustainable world, whether by increasing fuel efficiency or working closely with local and state authorities on Superfund site cleanups.

Boeing

Headquarters: Chicago
Revenue: $66.4 billion
Studies show that greenhouse-gas emissions from aircraft could more than triple by 2050.
With more than 800 orders already placed and sales of over $100 billion recorded, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is the fastest-selling passenger jet in history, and thanks to an innovative carbon-composite construction, the midsize 787 will be lighter and an estimated 20 percent more fuel efficient than comparable airplanes. Boeing says it delivers "exceptional environmental performance." But recently, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, which has been on the lookout for misleading environmental claims in ads, reprimanded Boeing for overstating the fuel efficiency of another aircraft, its yet-to-launch 747-8 Intercontinental. Despite its efforts to reduce CO2, the company has been less than transparent about its greenhouse-gas emissions. After initially declining to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project, an investor-led initiative that gathers information on companies’ carbon footprint, Boeing responded the past two years but declined to make the information public. Air pollution aside, Boeing was slapped with $500,000 in water-pollution fines last September for its laboratory near Simi Valley, California. According to the Los Angeles Regional Water Board, which levied the fines, Boeing had exceeded limits on dumping dioxin, lead, and mercury, among other pollutants. The E.P.A. is considering adding the 2,850-acre laboratory to its list of Superfund sites, citing concerns about the local drinking-water supply.
What the company says: Boeing claims that it has substantially reduced emissions and noise pollution in its aircraft, that it has an aggressive plan moving forward, and that it calculated the efficiency of its aircraft using the industry-standard formula.

Apple

Headquarters: Cupertino, California
Revenue: $24 billion
Significant amounts of phthalate, a toxin thought to cause birth defects, have been found in the iPhone and iPod headphone cords.
Steve Jobs has promised a "greener Apple," setting goals for reducing e-waste (Al Gore is on the board), but the company came under fire last May when it rejected two shareholder proposals that were intended to help. Apple pledged to finish phasing out toxins such as polyvinyl chlorides and brominated flame retardants from its products this year, but the iPhone, unveiled after that promise was made, contained both types of chemical, according to tests by an environmental group, which many major cell-phone makers have eliminated from their handsets. Apple’s computer-recycling program also lags behind those of some of its competitors. The company will take back old computers for free, but only if a new Mac is purchased directly from Apple and the old one returned within 90 days. Dell, Apple’s main rival, will accept any Dell computer, anytime.
What the company says: Apple says it plans to eliminate PVCs and brominated flame retardants by the end of 2008. It has no comment on the phthalate issue.

Southern Co.

Headquarters: Atlanta
Revenue: $15.2 billion
Southern operates the top three carbon-dioxide-emitting plants in the U.S.
Southern provides power to more than 4 million customers, but its plants emit a mass of noxious gases across the southern United States. Analyzing E.P.A. data, the Environmental Integrity Project reports that Southern runs six of the 50 dirtiest power plants in the country in terms of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury released. Its Bowen plant in Georgia, run by subsidiary Georgia Power, is the biggest American sulfur-dioxide polluter. Southern owns the top three carbon-dioxide-emitting plants in the U.S., two of which rank second and third in mercury output as well. And five of its other plants are among the country’s top 50 nitrogen-oxide producers.
What the company says: Southern continues to invest billions of dollars to lower its chemical and greenhouse-gas emissions while also seeking out new ways to produce cleaner energy.

American Electric Power

Headquarters: Columbus, Ohio
Revenue: $13.1 billion
American Electric Power is one of the biggest mercury polluters in the U.S.
American Electric Power has been winning praise for cutting back its greenhouse-gas emissions. The Ohio-based utility company plans to implement new technology that stores carbon dioxide underground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. But the company still releases large amounts of mercury.  Analyzing E.P.A. data, the Environmental Integrity Project ranked five of A.E.P.’s plants among the 50 biggest mercury polluters in the U.S. in 2006. The company’s Pirkey, Texas, plant had the worst ratio of power produced (roughly 5 million megawatt hours) to mercury released (over 1,000 pounds). According to the E.P.A.’s toxic-release inventory, A.E.P.’s plant in Winfield, West Virginia, is the 22nd-biggest polluter in the country, releasing more than 20 million pounds of toxins each year, not including carbon dioxide.
What the company says: As a large producer of electricity, A.E.P. would naturally expect to find its plants atop lists for emissions by volume. However, A.E.P. claims that its plants operate in compliance with state and federal environmental regulations and are among the most efficient in the world. The company has reduced mercury emissions by installing new technology.

Massey Energy

Headquarters: Richmond, Virginia
Revenue: $2.3 billion
Massey owns a controversial sludge reservoir that lies less than 400 yards from a West Virginia elementary school.
As one of the largest practitioners of a mining technique known as "mountaintop removal," Massey, the fourth-largest coal company in the U.S., is responsible for leveling peaks across the Appalachians and polluting miles of streams with waste from the blasts. Responding to public criticism, the company launched a radio and TV ad campaign in 2005, along with a website, OurTotalEnvironment.com, saying it works to restore the land it has mined and uses the most environmentally friendly processes available. In January, Massey agreed to pay $20 million, plus take a series of steps to ensure compliance, to settle a suit brought by the E.P.A. for more than 4,000 counts of illegally dumping coal sludge into waterways in West Virginia and Kentucky. The suit claimed Massey has "an extensive history of violating the Clean Water Act."
What the company says: Massey says that the sludge reservoir isn’t toxic, that it restores any peaks it levels, and that it does not pollute streams.

Chevron

Headquarters: San Ramon, California
Revenue: $207 billion
Chevron has contributed waste to more than 90 active Superfund sites.
Chevron has spent billions on alternative-fuel technology and research and touted its green credentials when it bought a 20 percent stake in a Galveston, Texas, biodiesel plant. But that partnership fell apart soon after the plant’s May 2007 opening when the partners sued, alleging Chevron had failed to give a needed cash infusion. In December, the New York City comptroller filed a shareholder resolution asking Chevron to look into its environmental record around the world. Among the causes for concern: The oil company was fined more than $300 million by the government of Kazakhstan in October for environmental violations. In the U.S., Chevron has faced fines from state and federal regulators over its water and air pollution, including $1.8 million over the past five years for its Richmond, California, refinery.
What the company says: Chevron says it has taken great steps to reduce its energy use and invest in renewable and efficient energy technology. It believes the charges against its environmental record are inaccurate and misleading. It says it has honored its contractual obligations to the Galveston plant. Read Chevron’s full response.

Alcoa

Headquarters: Pittsburgh
Revenue $30.7 billion
Alcoa’s aluminum smelters release 6.1 million pounds of air pollution annually.
Alcoa’s corporate environmental push, called Ecoalcoa, has some solid initiatives, such as plans to reduce the company’s nitrogen-oxide and mercury emissions, but its power plants are among the dirtiest, on a pollution-per-megawatt basis. Though only a small producer of power compared with Southern or American Electric Power, its plant in Warrick County, Indiana, produces nearly 30 pounds of sulfur dioxide for every megawatt hour it generates, making it the third-least-efficient power plant in the United States.
In 2003, the Department of Justice ordered Alcoa to shut down three of its four Rockdale, Texas, power plants, which at the time the E.P.A. said were the dirtiest in the nation. As part of a consent decree with the Department of Justice and citizens’ groups, Alcoa promised to spend $330 million to replace those plants with a new, updated facility. But Alcoa didn’t actually close the Rockdale plants until the Justice Department slapped the aluminum company with $9.2 million in penalties in 2006 for nearly 2,000 violations of clean-air standards. The cleaner plant was originally scheduled to begin operation in April 2007. But under a new consent decree, it won’t open until 2009, and Alcoa will no longer operate it.
Alcoa unloaded another environmental problem by selling its Three Oaks mining operation late last year.
What the company says: Alcoa says it has been working to improve its environmental record and has no comment on the criticisms raised.

—Research by Ben H. Carmichael, Frank Hentic, Genevieve Smith, and Herman Wong
Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/02/19/10-Worst-Corporate-Polluters

 

TOXICSWATCH-ALLIANCE AGAINST POLLUTION & CORPORATE CRIMES

ToxicsWatch keeps track of callousness, corporate crimes, military-mining-industrial complex & their impact on humans, wildlife & ecosystem. It is concerned about public health impacts from companies of all ilk and related public and corporate policies. It is an ally of WaterWatch Alliance. Visit:www.toxicswatch.com, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com, imowatch.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Letter to Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New & Renewable Energy

Date: 20 July, 2010
To
Dr. Farooq Abdullah,
Union Cabinet Minister
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
Government of India
Block-14, CGO Complex,
Lodhi Road,New Delhi-110003
Subject-Seeking Appointment to Discuss Waste to Energy Plants in Residential Areas of Delhi
Sir,
This is to seek an appointment to meet you with a small delegation from Delhi based Residential Welfare Associations, environmental groups and waste recyclers in the matter of proposed waste to energy plants based on incineration technology in general and Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy project in particular.
I wish to draw your attention towards the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy project that has met with protest rally from the residents of Gaffar Manzil, Sukhdev Vihar and Hazi Colony together. Local politicians have also pledged their support for the protesters. Over 600 people walked through the colonies in a procession to stage their protest. The proposed plant is located inside dozens of densely populated residential colonies like Harkesh Nagar and Johori Farm, when the policy of the government is to shift or relocate all existing industries whatsoever from the residential areas. Besides this the site is in proximity of hospitals like Holy Family, Fortis-Escorts and Apollo. Inhabitants of colonies like Gaffar Manzil, Sukhdev Vihar and Hazi Colony are rightly alarmed at the prospect of a Dioxins emitting incinerator plant from coming up in their vicinity.
This has reference to your reply dated December 11, 2009 in the Lok Sabha and laying of foundation stone on June 26, 2010 by Mrs Sheila Dikshit, Delhi’s Chief Minister for a polluting waste to energy plant in the residential area despite the experience of Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster.
In your reply it was stated, “Our Ministry is implementing a programme for setting up five pilot projects on Energy recovery from municipal solid waste”. Initially, Delhi Government claimed in the Delhi High Court that it was one of the five projects you referred to in your reply, which the court later found to be not true.
Your Ministry and Delhi government and have been misled into promoting this dubious technology despite incontrovertible evidence against the technology and in spite of its explicit exclusion by the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan for Climate Change.
While no one will allow a incinerator based plant in one’s own backyard or in one’s own residential area, the same is being done by the Delhi Government and your Ministry. In an open letter to the Chief Minister which is attached for your perusal, the residents said, “This plant will emit large quantities of hazardous and toxic emissions (such as dioxins and furans) due to burning of Municipal Solid Waste, and will profoundly affect the health of the people living in the surrounding areas and environment for all times to come in future.”
Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) must take cognizance of the sad plight at waste to energy site in Gandhamguda village in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh (wrongly mentioned as Hyderabad project) which had the same technology. While the RDF incinerator was in operation, the village was covered by a heavy shroud of dark smoke. Originally a pelletisation plant with a furnace, After the plant came up, local doctors started detecting case of problems not found before
— skin rashes, asthma, respiratory problems and some cases of stillborns. In a statement, Gandhamguda sarpanch D. Shakuntala had said: ‘‘Everyone in Peerancheru Gram Panchayat and its adjoining regions is now contaminated with harmful pollutants and symptoms are visible in the form of brain fever, vomiting, jaundice, asthma,
miscariages, infertility.’’ Similar fate awaits residents of Delhi.
For misplaced carbon revenue, it would not be appropriate to turn Delhi residents as guinea pigs. MNRE has an incorrect policy of subsidizing hazardous technologies like proposed incinerators.
Environmental groups, recycling workers and neighborhood residents are demanding closure of this combustion based project for a just transition from burning waste to building a better, cleaner future for the residents of Delhi. The transition is necessary in the face of issues such as the high cost of incineration, health effects of pollution in neighborhoods, and adverse climate change. Children suffer asthma rates three times the national average among other devastating health impacts.
This plant is based on a hazardous technology that receives fiscal incentives from Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Notably, while ‘whether or not energy from mixed municipal waste (with hazardous characteristics) is a driving concern’ remains in dispute, the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) categorically refers to Biomethanation technology, a biological
treatment method for waste to energy instead of the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) process which is a incineration technology and is a tried,tested, failed and Dioxins emitting technology.
Your Ministry and Delhi Chief Minister has turned a blind eye to Delhi High Court order which led to an inquiry by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) into the failure of the Timarpur plant that was also based on incineration technology (namely Refuse Derived Fuel) and the ‘White Paper on Pollution in Delhi with an Action Plan’ prepared by Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Chief
Minister has been misled in to promoting it. The White Paper says, “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.”
Even Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s own Feasibility Study and Master Plan for Optimal Waste Treatment and Disposal for the Entire State of Delhi of March 2004 says, “Incineration of RDF is considered waste incineration.” (Page 25, Appendix D, Technology Catalogue). It also says the costs of RDF are often high for societies with low calorific value because energy is used to dry the waste before it becomes
feasible to burn it.
In fact the Master Plan Report (2020) of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) itself says,… “RDF is often an option when emission standards are lax and RDF is burned in conventional boilers with no special precautions for emissions.” One is surprised that despite this observation the report then goes on to suggest RDF. In fact the MCD
report itself says that RDF is another form of incineration.
A 10 member Fact Finding Team visited the plant site on 18th June 2010 to take stock of the situation. Its preliminary findings are as follows: 1. RDF or incineration is completely inappropriate for Indian urban waste, which is largely biodegradable in nature. They extract a very high cost for the energy which they claim to generate. 2. The cost largely subsidised by various schemes, does not however include the environmental and health costs caused by their toxic releases, and which are externalized. 3. These technologies also use valuable resources which can be recycled, such as plastics and metals, and which support a massive recycling sector in the country. Indian municipal waste is fit for composting and bio-methanation treatment processes. 4. RDF is a thermal and combustion technology, mainly used
to prepare waste for mass incineration. 5. If mixed waste is burnt will create problems of very toxic compounds such as dioxins and furans, heavy metals and other pollutants. 6. The calorific value for the waste comes from materials such as plastics and metals. 7. Plastics, especially chlorinated plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) when combusted gives rise to these highly toxic pollutants and
8. PVC plastic combustion which is part of the mixed waste is banned in India by regulation both in the municipal and bio-medical waste handling rules.
Earlier residents had not allowed the land hand over ceremony for the project that is proposed in the residential area of Okhla but unmindful of the public protest, New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) had permitted Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd to set up this plant. This company has secured a contract from New Delhi Waste
Processing Company Limited, a joint venture between the Delhi Government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS), to produce 16 MW power from 2, 000 metric tonnes of municipal waste. Jindal company’s misplaced claims to that effect that it will process nearly 2000 tonnes of waste, later it would be in a position to process as much as 4,000 tonnes based on obsolete technology will
distort capital city’s waste management beyond repair.
The proposed polluting technology to deal with the waste from South Delhi, North West Delhi and East Delhi is fraught with disastrous public health consequences for which two companies namely, Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Company (TOWMCL) and the Unique Waste Processing Company (subsidiary of IL&FS Infrastructure Development
Corporation Limited have been set up.
As per the agreement, BRPL will procure 50 per cent of the 16 MW electricity to be produced by TOWMCL at its plant in Okhla in the vicinity of numerous residential areas such as Sukhdev Vihar, Hazi Colony, Gaffar Manzil and others. The plant being set up plans to process over 6,43,500 lakh metric tonnes or one third of Delhi’s
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) per year generated in Delhi. The plant is scheduled to be commissioned in late 2010-2011. Around 1,300 Tonnes Per Day (TPD) of MSW will be sourced from the Okhla landfill site and 650 TPD from Timarpur. BRPL will procure power at a DERC approved competitive tariff rate, determined by a competitive bidding process. The agreement allows the promoters to sell the remaining 50 per cent
electricity through a suitable open access mechanism.
Similar waste to energy project is coming up at Ghazipur as well. Earlier, in November, 2009 BRPL had signed a 25-year-agreement to procure 49 per cent of the electricity generated from garbage to energy project at Ghazipur. Chief Minister referred to this project as well while laying the foundation stone.
Unmindful of the environmental and human cost the installation of proposed municipal solid waste (MSW) to energy plants in Ghazipur, Timarpur and Okhla, based on incineration of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) is being pursued. This compelled the residents to move to the Delhi High Court. Earlier, the matter came up for hearing on December 11, 2009 wherein the petitioners (Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare
Association & others) pointed out the polluting nature of the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Incineration technology and how both the central government and the Delhi government has misled the court. The court in its latest order has found that it was misled earlier which had led to it dismissing the petition which has now been restored and is scheduled for hearing on 22nd July before the Delhi High Court. In the presence of A.S. Chandihok, Additional Solicitor General, the bench headed by the Chief Justice, Delhi High Court in an order dated 15th January observed, “that the project in question” and “the location of the pilot project in Delhi was neither recommended by the Expert Committee nor approved by the Supreme Court.”
East Delhi Waste Processing Company Private Limited, a special purpose vehicle of the latter company is working for generating electricity at the Ghazipur site with the support of the Delhi Government. ‘New Delhi Waste Processing Company Private Limited’ a Joint Venture company of Delhi Government, IL&FS and APTTDC is supporting the project as well. The integrated municipal waste-processing complex is proposed to
include a MSW processing plant at Ghazipur to produce Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) along with a power plant of 10 MW capacity where the RDF derived from the waste will be used as fuel to produce electricity. It is supposed to handle an average 1300 tons per day. It claims that 111,949 metric tonnes CO2 equivalent per annum of green house gases would be reduced. The crediting period for the project is from 1st
November, 2010 to 31 October, 2020.
The Timarpur-Okhla carbon credit project which was registered on 10th November, 2007 with a claim to reduce green house gases to the tune of 262,791 metric tonnes CO2 equivalent per annum. Unique Waste Processing Company, a subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) and Andhra Pradesh Technology Development Centre (APTDC) has incorporated Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management
Company for developing the project for processing municipal waste and also to produce electricity at two locations namely Timarpur and Okhla, at the site at Okhla that is adjacent to defunct Okhla Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). TOWMCL is working with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and MCD. The Timarpur and Okhla plant will together be processing 650 tonnes per day of MSW at Timarpur site and 1300 tonnes
per day of MSW at Okhla and claims to generate 16 MW of electricity.
The move underway to install RDF plants in Delhi and several other state capitals is an environmentally unsustainable solution, which should be deemed unacceptable. If Delhi allows such toxic plant, it will set a bad precedent for other cities. It raises serious concerns about the health and safety of the citizens, which such a technology, will jeopardize.
In view of these grave concerns which Delhi residents, environmental groups and waste recyclers face, please grant us an appointment to meet you as a delegation and apprise of the situation at the earliest.
warm regards
Gopal Krishna
Founder-Convener
ToxicsWatch Alliance
New Delhi
Mb: 9818089660
Website: http://www.toxicswatch.com
Blog: toxicswatch.blogspot.com

 

World’s top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/18/worlds-top-firms-environmental-damage

Report for the UN into the activities of the world’s 3,000 biggest companies estimates one-third of profits would be lost if firms were forced to pay for use, loss and damage of environment

COP15 : Black clouds hover over the central JakartaBlack clouds over the central business district, Jakarta. The report into the activities of the world’s 3,000 biggest public companies has estimated the cost of use, loss and damage of the environment. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world’s biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found.

The report comes amid growing concern that no one is made to pay for most of the use, loss and damage of the environment, which is reaching crisis proportions in the form of pollution and the rapid loss of freshwater, fisheries and fertile soils.

Later this year, another huge UN study – dubbed the "Stern for nature" after the influential report on the economics of climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern – will attempt to put a price on such global environmental damage, and suggest ways to prevent it. The report, led by economist Pavan Sukhdev, is likely to argue for abolition of billions of dollars of subsidies to harmful industries like agriculture, energy and transport, tougher regulations and more taxes on companies that cause the damage.

Ahead of changes which would have a profound effect – not just on companies’ profits but also their customers and pension funds and other investors – the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment initiative and the United Nations Environment Programme jointly ordered a report into the activities of the 3,000 biggest public companies in the world, which includes household names from the UK’s FTSE 100 and other major stockmarkets.

The study, conducted by London-based consultancy Trucost and due to be published this summer, found the estimated combined damage was worth US$2.2 trillion (£1.4tn) in 2008 – a figure bigger than the national economies of all but seven countries in the world that year.

The figure equates to 6-7% of the companies’ combined turnover, or an average of one-third of their profits, though some businesses would be much harder hit than others.

"What we’re talking about is a completely new paradigm," said Richard Mattison, Trucost’s chief operating officer and leader of the report team. "Externalities of this scale and nature pose a major risk to the global economy and markets are not fully aware of these risks, nor do they know how to deal with them."

The biggest single impact on the $2.2tn estimate, accounting for more than half of the total, was emissions of greenhouse gases blamed forclimate change. Other major "costs" were local air pollution such as particulates, and the damage caused by the over-use and pollution of freshwater.

The true figure is likely to be even higher because the $2.2tn does not include damage caused by household and government consumption of goods and services, such as energy used to power appliances or waste; the "social impacts" such as the migration of people driven out of affected areas, or the long-term effects of any damage other than that from climate change. The final report will also include a higher total estimate which includes those long-term effects of problems such as toxic waste.

Trucost did not want to comment before the final report on which sectors incurred the highest "costs" of environmental damage, but they are likely to include power companies and heavy energy users like aluminium producers because of the greenhouse gases that result from burning fossil fuels. Heavy water users like food, drink and clothing companies are also likely to feature high up on the list.

Sukhdev said the heads of the major companies at this year’s annual economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, were increasingly concerned about the impact on their business if they were stopped or forced to pay for the damage.

"It can make the difference between profit and loss," Sukhdev told the annual Earthwatch Oxford lecture last week. "That sense of foreboding is there with many, many [chief executives], and that potential is a good thing because it leads to solutions."

The aim of the study is to encourage and help investors lobby companies to reduce their environmental impact before concerned governments act to restrict them through taxes or regulations, said Mattison.

"It’s going to be a significant proportion of a lot of companies’ profit margins," Mattison told the Guardian. "Whether they actually have to pay for these costs will be determined by the appetite for policy makers to enforce the ‘polluter pays’ principle. We should be seeking ways to fix the system, rather than waiting for the economy to adapt. Continued inefficient use of natural resources will cause significant impacts on [national economies] overall, and a massive problem for governments to fix."

Another major concern is the risk that companies simply run out of resources they need to operate, said Andrea Moffat, of the US-based investor lobby group Ceres, whose members include more than 80 funds with assets worth more than US$8tn. An example was the estimated loss of 20,000 jobs and $1bn last year for agricultural companies because of water shortages in California, said Moffat.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/18/worlds-top-firms-environmental-damage

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