Scientific decommissioning of old thermal power plants should be done: NGT

Currently, there are no effective guidelines for decommissioning or out of practice, thermal power plants. There is a danger of not properly disposing of harmful elements.

On a petition by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Chennai’s South Zone Bench, ordering a state government-owned thermal power plant in Tamil Nadu to order the proper disposal of hazardous elements present in them while out of practice. Notice issued. The bench consists of Judge Ram Krishna and expert member Sybil Dasgupta.

The notices have been issued to the Central Government, Central Electricity Authority, Central Pollution Control Board and the Neyveli Lignite Corporation India owned by the state government after the hearing on 12 February 2021. The case relates to the power plant at Neyveli in Tamil Nadu. The plant has been operating since the year 1962.

Petitioner Dharmesh Shah states that there are no effective guidelines for declaring the thermal power plant out of fashion. Because of this, there is a danger of disposal of fly ash and other hazardous elements used in such power plants. The petitioner also states that in such a situation, the owners of the project usually prefer economic aspects over the environment, as a result, such power plants become environmentally unsafe.

He has demanded from the Central Government or the State Pollution Control Boards to ensure that the coal-fired power stations out of obsolescence are removed from the practice through internationally respected scientific methods, so that water can contaminate the air and soil. To prevent it. The petitioner has also appealed that the court direct all parties to keep the decommissioning process on record.

The NGT has said in its order that “We agree that some such questions are being raised about the environment, which need to be resolved in a scientific manner after consulting the concerned authorities.” It is important to have some guidelines that management of thermal power plants wishing to be out of practice should follow. ”

The court has ordered all the parties to file their replies by 23 March 2021.

The owner of the plant concerned is responsible for disposal of hazardous elements under the Circumferential and Other Residuals (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, but no procedure has been prescribed for this. Apart from this, the guidelines regarding decommissioning tenders are not mentioned in the liability rules issued by the plant operator in relation to the management of harmful elements.

The petition filed in the court demanded that NLC India will bear the appropriate disposal of harmful substances in the power plants and remedial expenses of the respective site as per the ‘polluters pay’ principle.

In a report released by Health Energy Initiative India in the year 2020, it has been found that no remedial or precautionary protocols are adopted during disposal of harmful elements kept in out-of-power power plant sites in India. The report mentions a case related to the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Power Plant of Bathinda, whose financial aspects are included only in the proposal for auction of junk. According to the report, many e-auction documents also tell a similar story.

Toxic chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic, lead, and poly-chlorinated bisphenyls are commonly used in thermal power plants. These cause fatal diseases. Night produced by burning coal is another poisonous by-product, due to which water and soil are contaminated and harm human health and ecology.