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Waste to energy plant in Delhi creating ‘hazardous air quality conditions’

NEW DELHI: A residents’ collective opposing the Timarpur-Okhla waste to energy plant has had air quality samples taken from around the plant analysed by ChesterLabNet and Chennai based Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives which took two 24-hours ambient air samples.

Mark Chernaik, a scientist associated with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide who studied the reports has said that emissions from the plant are creating “hazardous air quality conditions necessitating immediate abatement of pollutant emissions from this source”.

The ChesterLabNet report dated March 26, 2013, has shown that levels of very fine particulate matter or PM2.5 were 601 micrograms per cubic m in an air sample collected on March 4, 2013, from Haji Colony which is 50 m from the WTE incinerator. The same report shows that levels of PM2.5 were 277.1 mg/ cu m in air sample collected on March 5, 2013, from Sukhdev Vihar which is 110 m from the incinerator. The fact that PM2.5 is higher in air closer to the plant “lends further weight to the conclusion that the incinerator is the source of these harmful levels of PM2.5 in ambient air,” Chernaik has said.

Of the eight DPCC reports on stack emissions that the resident’s collective has obtained, particulate matter levels have exceeded standard on five occasions.

Dharmesh Shah, co-ordinator GAIA said that the 24-hour average level of lead in the air sample collected on March 4 from Haji Colony was 1.25 mg/cu m while that collected on March 5 from Sukhdev Vihar was 1.27 mg/cu m. “This is significantly higher than the permitted daily mean of 1 mg/cu m,” he said.

Chernaik has added: “I reviewed the Chennai Mettex Lab Private Limited Test Report, dated April 2, 2013, in which it is shown that airborne ash from the incinerator contains 480 mg/kg of lead, more than thirty times the expected level of lead in dust of only 14 mg/kg…the report lends strong weight to the conclusion that the incinerator is the source of these harmful levels of lead in ambient air.”

DPCC officials said that it was unscientific to attribute the pollution levels to the plant since air pollution has several sources. “Stack emissions have been slightly higher than permitted on a few occasions due to quality of waste burnt on that day. We are keeping records of it. However, it cannot be said with certainty that high PM2.5 levels are due to the plant,” said an official.

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