A joint committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recommended that industrial units should maintain operational records of flare stacks as it would help in ascertaining the source during incidents of severe odour issues faced by local residents.
The committee was appointed by the Southern Bench of the tribunal based on a complaint filed by an Eroor native alleging that the smell of benzene from the Kochi Refinery had created health problems to the residents, including children, and senior citizens.
In its report filed on December 17, the committee said that on-site monitoring was held on October 21 and November 3 respectively. It couldn’t yield anything to corroborate the claim that the odour pollution is from the refinery due to petroleum products.
“To get more insight into this issue, proper monitoring should be carried out when such odour issues recur in the future and the surveillance team of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) should be equipped to carry out monitoring on short notices. The surveillance team shall conduct monitoring when the odour nuisance is reported in the future,” it said.
The petitioner, who resided nearly four-kilometres away from the refinery, informed that he did not experience any odour issues on the two occasions of the on-site monitoring held by the committee. The committee pointed out that there are many petroleum installations/industries/waste management facilities towards the west of the applicant’s house. Based on the narrative of the applicant, the matter could be the odour issues from random events of excessive flaring/incomplete combustion product from the flares/excessive emission from industries due to random process disturbances, it said.
The committee comprised District Collector Renu Raj, Dr. Deepesh V., scientist, Central Pollution Control Board’s Regional Directorate, Bangalore, and P. Geetha, Senior Environmental Scientist, KSPCB, Ernakulam.