Vedanta's copper smelter runs into trouble - How safe is Barmer?
The fact that people have died protesting against the Vedanta Group's plans to expand the copper smelting unit because it has been polluting ground water and causing ailments in the region needs to be taken seriously 8Focus needs to also shift to Cairn India's polymer flooding programme in Rajasthan's Barmer field, which is being touted as being the largest in the world. 8The flooding involves pumping a massive 400,000 barrels of chemical laden fluid per day into the earth. 8This plan is only for the Mangla field but more chemical laden fluids will be pumped in when the EOR plan is extended to other fields in the block. 8The problem here is of disclosure. How safe is the flooding programme? 8The toxic chemicals used in such operations have generated significant public concern and become a flashpoint for public controversy in the west. 8These chemicals, if released into the environment, can have a range of harmful spinoffs based on their toxicity, mobility, solubility, volatility, and persistence. 8Cairn must provide an undertaking to use “environmentally friendly” fluids and provide specifics that would allow other stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives. 8US companies now ensure that diesel is completely eliminated from fluids that are pumped into the reservoirs. Can Cairn give such an undertaking? 8Then again, some environmentally friendly companies have taken out the suite of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) chemicals from injection fluids. Isn't it possible for Cairn to do so too? 8Some companies have begun employing chemical hazard rating systems for managing and reducing the toxicity of injection chemicals, can Cairn do it too? 8Companies such as BHP Billiton have reported that 81% of its injection fluids contain chemicals that satisfy its most demanding toxicity reduction criteria which exclude endocrine disruptors, known or suspected carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants, or US government listed “priority pollutants”. 8Cairn India must take the initiative and start the process of doing this in India too . 8If not, then it is the job of the government to ensure that the massive amounts of chemicals pumped into the Barmer reservoirs are safe from the environment and human health point of view.