Jharkhand’s Chandrapura Thermal Power Station fails to dispose oil one year after oil spillage

The state-appointed committee says disposal should have happened within 15 days of the incident, experts ask why it didn’t intervene sooner

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One whole year after the oil spillage incident at the Chandrapura Thermal Power Station (CTPS) in Jharkhand, the collected oil and the oil-soaked fly ash have not yet been disposed of by the power station, shows a recent inspection report by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB). As per the report, on October 15th, 2019, 2.7 KiloLitres of oil had leaked during the process of unloading. However, why was the committee’s visit not planned earlier, instead of a year later is a question asked by many.

"Considerable time has passed since the Oil spill incident happened but the Unit has not yet disposed of collected Oil and oil-soaked Fly Ash," states the report that has been uploaded on the website of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 5th, 2020. A high level committee appointed by the JSPCB had visited the affected area on January 27th, 2020, in order to assess the environmental damages caused by the oil leakage incident. In June 2020, that is about eight months after the incident, the JSPCB had directed the unit to dispose of collected Oil and Oil contaminated ash and other materials in an environmentally sound manner as per hazardous waste rules within the stipulated time. However, the report mentions that the situation persists as it is.

As per the report, the oil is transported using Railway Rake (Oil Tankers) once a year as per requirement, as transporting through small truck tankers is not economical for the plant. CTPS has imported oil in this manner earlier on April 4th, 2018 and October 14th, 2019. The incident in question had occurred on the wee hours of October 15th, 2019. The oil had leaked into River Damodar through a nearby drainage system built for storm/rainwater.



The report has stated that the CTPS started immediate measures to collect oil from the drainage channel and the river, and also constituted a team to monitor the said incident. The oil loading/unloading system is also unoperational since the day. "By and large the study or entire exercise should have been completed within 15 days of Spillage," the report clearly states further. But if so, an expert in the area, Shripad Dharmadhikary of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, has questioned, “Why was it that the committee of the State was visiting the site after so many months in January, and then after almost a year, and why not within 15 days to monitor the process of disposal?”

The committee that visited the area stated that it found no environmental damages to the nearby agricultural field or wild plants growing nearby. However, it has noted that the spillage may have killed fishes in the river or water animals as an immediate effect last year. “However, even the committee notes, after so much time such damages may no longer be seen. The rains have also come in the intervening period,” Dharmadhikary said.