hazardous substances
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This article is written by Himank Dewan, a 5th-year student at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Pune. This article talks about what are the different hazardous substance in the world which is destroying the community and the people in it. It will also be talking about the different legal provision and the step to prevent the destroying the community by these hazardous substances. 

Introduction

Are you aware that India ranks 177 out of 180 on the Environmental Performance Index 2018, which has plummeted 36 points from 141 out of 180 from 2016? It is in the bottom five of the Environmental Performance Index, which is a disgrace to the country’s image. Taj Mahal is considered as one of the seven marvels of the world but if you look at its condition now. A monument which was famous for its beauty is now turning yellow due to environmental pollution which is a result of human action.

Let us explore the different hazardous substance and their legal provision.

Statutory Provision

As per Section 2(e) of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 “Hazardous Substance” has been characterized as “an element or preparation which, by reason of its synthetic or physic-synthetic properties or managing, is a danger to cause harm to individuals, other existing animals, flora, microorganisms, other belongings or the earth.

Harmful and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016

These principles are the essential guidelines which address the supervision of harmful waste in India. They were set up under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1989, which gives the Central Government the capacity to “acknowledge all such measures as it might consider essential or convenient for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and counteracting, controlling and abating ecological pollution”. These standards were endorsed after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case to counteract further such cases. 

List of things that Generate Hazardous Waste

Here is a list of few substances which produce Hazardous waste and which infects the environment in a ruthless manner:

  • Petrochemical procedures and pyrolytic tasks.
  • Raw petroleum and production of natural gas.
  • Cleaning, draining and upkeep of petroleum oil stockpiling tanks including ships.
  • Refining of oil or pre-preparing of utilized oil or reusing of waste oil.
  • Industrial operations utilizing mineral or engineered oil as lubricant in hydraulic systems or other applications.
  • Secondary generation and/or industrial use of zinc.
  • The primary generation of zinc or lead or copper and other non-ferrous metals aside from aluminium.
  • Secondary manufacturing of copper.
  • Optional manufacturing of lead.
  • Creation as well as industrial use of cadmium and arsenic and their compounds.
  • Production of essential and optional aluminium.
  • Metal surface treatment, such as drawing, recolouring, cleaning, arousing, cleaning, degreasing, plating, etc.
  • Creation of iron and steel including other ferrous amalgams (electric heater; steel rolling and finishing mills; Coke broilers and by products of plant).
  • Solidifying of steel.
  • Production of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.
  • Generation of caustic soda and chlorine.
  • Production of mineral acids.
  • Generation of nitrogenous and complex composts.
  • Production of phenol.
  • Creation and additional use of industrial solvents.
  • Production and/or modern utilization of paints, colours, lacquers, varnishes and inks.
  • Creation of plastics.
  • Production and modern utilization of pastes, organic cement, cements and tars.
  • Creation of canvas and textiles.
  • Industrial generation and formulation of wood preservatives.
  • Production and industrial utilization of engineered dyes, dye-intermediates and pigments.
  • Generation of a natural-silicone compound.
  • Production/formulation of medications/pharmaceutical and health care product.
  • Creation, and formulation of pesticides including stock-piles.
  • Leather tanneries.
  • Electronic Industry.
  • Pulp and Paper Industry.
  • Treatment of harmful chemicals and wastes.
  • Sterilization of utilized for the treatment of hazardous wastes/chemicals.
  • Air/Gases, Water and Wastewater from the process and common effluent treatment plants (CEPTS) must be refined and treated properly according to the procedure laid down by the government of India.
  • Organic compounds/ solvents have to go through the purification process.
  • Waste treatment process which is dangerous, For eg. pre-paring, incineration and concentration.
  • Ores containing heavy metals such as Chromium, Manganese, Nickel, Cadmium etc. must go through chemical processing.

These are a few things which are depleting our environment and which is causing a lot of imbalance for all living creatures. Various things have been mentioned under the Schedule of the Hazardous and Other Waste Management and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules, 2016.

Responsibility for Proper Management of Harmful and Other Wastes

According to Section 4 of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, these are the process that needs to be followed by various people for proper management of Hazardous Waste:

  1. Occupier:
      1. They should pursue anticipation, minimization, reuse, recycle, recuperation, utilisation including co-handling; safe disposal
      2. They ought to have a safe and environmentally sound management of harmful waste.
      3. An authorized user will receive the harmful waste created in an establishment or it will be discarded according to the authorised disposal facility.
      4. In accordance with the guidelines laid down, the occupier’s establishment will transport the waste produced to an authorised actual user or to an authorised facility.
      5. Storage and removal facility will be provided to the operator of that facility with such explicit data as may be required for safe storing and disposal as may be required by those who expect to get harmful waste treated and disposed of by the administrator.
      6. They will take all the steps while managing hazardous waste to-
        1. Provide people working on-site with appropriate training, equipment and the information necessary to ensure their safety.
        2. Contain contaminants and anticipate accidents and confine their consequences on human beings and the environment. 
  2. State Government:
      1. Approval of State Government to ensure earmarking and allocation of industrial space or recycling shed, pre-processing and utilization of harmful waste in the current and upcoming industrial park has been done for the Department of industries in the State or any other government agency.
      2. Labour department in the State or any other government agency approves in such regard by the State Government shall-
        • Assist the advancement of groups of workers to facilitate setting up such facilities;
        • Ensure, acknowledge and enlistment of workers involved in recycling, pre-processing and other utilisation activities;
        • To ensure the well being and health of workers involved in reusing, pre-processing and other utilisation annual monitoring must be taken;
        • Development exercises for the labourers engaged in recycling, pre-processing and other utilisation for the development of industrial skills;
      3. Integrated plans for effective implementation of the provisions and submit an annual report to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in the Central Government is required to be done by the State Government. 
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Procedure for Treatment, Storage and Disposal

According to Section 16 of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 the proper procedure for treatment, storing and removal facility of hazardous and other waste is as follows:

  1. The State government, occupier, operator of a facility or any association of occupiers will uninhibitedly or mutually or severally be held answerable for the identification of destination for establishing the workplace for treatment, storing and removal of the harmful and other waste.
  2. According to the technical procedure issued by the Central Pollution Control Board, the operator of ordinary office or occupier of the captive facility, will plan and set up treatment, storing, and removal facility which will get an endorsement from the State Pollution Control Board for structure and configuration in this regard.
  3. Monitoring and setting up the task of common of the task of the common, or captive treatment, storing and removal facility as per the guidelines laid down by the State Pollution Control Board.
  4. Monitoring and setting up and the task of the common or captive treatment, storing and removal facility shall be done by the State Pollution Control Board.
  5. According to guidelines or standard operating procedures issued by the Central Pollution Control Board, the operator of regular facility or occupier of a captive procedure will be in charge for the safety and ecological sound operation of the facility and its closure and post-closure phase.
  6. Records of harmful and other waste dealt by the operator of common facility or occupier of a captive facility are required to be maintained under Form 3.
  7. An Annual return under Form 4 is required to be filed by the operator of common facility or occupier of a captive facility on or before the 30th day of June following the financial year to which the returns relate to them in the format given to them by the State Pollution Control Board.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case

Facts

In the year 1984, India witnessed one of its most terrifying and devastating industrial disasters. In 1970 an American Enterprise, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) established a pesticide plant in a densely populated region of Bhopal due to its central location and transportation network. The site was supposed to be used for light industrial and commercial activity. During 1984 the company was manufacturing Selvin at one-quarter of its capacity due to decreased capacity. UCIL had made arrangements to transport it to a different country due to its low decreased production. Due to low profits the company was ignoring safety standards, which the government was aware of, which further lead them to be reluctant to impose strict control.

On 3rd December 1984, massive amounts of Methyl isocyanides had engulfed the city which resulted in a loss of life for both humans and animals on a massive level. This resulted in huge loss of life and the hospital were packed with both dead bodies and clueless patients and Doctors who were not at all aware of the cause of death nor were they aware of any treatment which was not shared by the UCC group which had claimed trade secrecy as an excuse.

After the incident, UCC distance itself from its Indian subsidiary and tried to invade itself from the liability by transferring the blame on them.

The gas leak affected the lives of many, it led to various ocular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive and neurological disorders among the people. The most affected were the pregnant women who had to abort their babies, or had premature delivery or to infants with foetal abnormalities.

The grievance was also inflicted on the environment. Even after the death of so many people, the company refused to take active responsibility and restore health environment. During its production year, the company dumped a huge amount of contaminated waste outside and inside the plant site. Almost all the contamination still remain in the plant site. These waste have degraded slowly and have polluted the soil and groundwater. This threatened a lot of people and will keep on spreading until it is properly disposed of.

Judgement

In the Year 1986, the Union of India filed a complaint in the Hon’ble District Court of Bhopal in September seeking an interim compensation of Rs. 3.5 Billion, however, the Madhya Pradesh High Court diminished it to Rs. 2.5 Billion. UCC again appealed to the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The court ordered UCC to 470 Million Dollars (approx. 750 Crore Rupees) ‘in full settlement of all claims, rights and liabilities related to and arising out of the Bhopal gas calamity. In terms, all civil proceedings were concluded and criminal procedures were suppressed.

In the year 2010, Seven former representatives, including the former UCIL director, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and fine of 2000$.

Views

The basic negligence on the part of the company, that they had not provided proper training or had provided any safety equipment to the workers. They were not keeping a regular tab on the work or on the machinery which was being used. Due to the low sales of the company was trying to neglect things which were a safety concern for everyone. During the internal inquiry, it was found out that most of the safety systems were not working properly. This proved that UCC was only interested in the declining profits which led them to neglect the wellbeing of workers and the people near the plant, who were all killed mercilessly in an accident and negligence on the part of the Company.

It was due to this accident that the government of India felt the need to provide environment laws to protect the wildlife from this evil humanity, it was also during this time that the government also provided us with Hazardous and other waste rules, 1987.

Even after many years of the disaster, the waste is still lying around the site which polluting the soil and groundwater, which is causing a problem to the environment and the people living there. Earlier the government was not able to decontaminate the place properly as they did not have the proper procedure or methods to do so, and the company was hiding behind legal framework wherein they refused to share the information of the plant as part of their trade confidentiality.

Amendments

Over the years there have been many developments in the industry which may have led to an increase in the different types of products being introduced and being used in the development of a new product due to which there might be an increase in new types of Hazardous and Other Waste. Here are some of the major Amendments which have been made to protect the Environment. These Amendment of 2016 are as follows:

  1. The ambit of the Rules has been extended by including ‘Other Waste’.
  2. Waste Management grading in the procedure of priority of prevention, minimization, reuse, recycling, recovery, co-processing; and safe disposal has been incorporated.
  3. All the procedures under the rules for permission, import/export, filing of annual returns, transportation, etc. have been re-examined altogether, demonstrating the stringent methodology for the management of such harmful and other wastes with a simultaneous simplification of procedure.
  4. The fundamental responsibility of framework to shield the wellbeing and environment from waste handling industry has been recommended as Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs), explicit to waste type, which must be complied by the stakeholders and guaranteed by SPCB/PCC while conceding such authorisation.
  5. The system has been simplified to unite all the approvals as freedom for setting up of harmful waste disposal facility and import of different wastes.
  6. Streamlining and authorization procedure for co-handling of harmful waste to recoup energy and put on discharge standard premise rather than on a trial basis.
  7. Co-preparing a particular mechanism over disposal for utilization of waste as a significant asset, or for recovery of energy has been given.
  8. Streamlining by rearranging the record-based procedure by rethinking the list of waste regulated for the procedure for import and export of waste under the rules.
  9. Exemption from the need of obtaining Ministry’s authorization for the import of metal scrap, paper waste and different categories of electrical and electronic hardware for reuse.
  10. Endorsement of Standard Operating Procedure(SOPs) specific to waste type for the essential need for infrastructure to safeguard the wellbeing and environment from the waste-production industry.
  11. Introduction to the duties of the State Government for environmentally stable supervision of harmful and other waste is as follows:
      • Setting up/Designating specified space or shed for the purpose of reusing, pre-processing and other utilization of harmful waste.
      • To ensure the safety and health of workers and attempt industrial skill development.
      • To enlist the workers associated in recycling, pre-processing and other utilization exercises.
      • To form a gathering of workers to empower setting up such facilities.
  12. Assessment of list of techniques generating harmful waste considering inventive headway into the venture.
  13. Reconsidering the list of waste and concentration limits according to international standard and drinking water standard.
  14. The accompanying items have been blocked for import:
      • Waste edible fats and oils of animals, or vegetable cause;
      • Household waste;
      • Basic Care Medical equipment;
      • Tyres for direct reuse reason;
      • Solid Plastic wastes including Pet bottles;
      • Waste electrical and electronic gathering scrap;
      • Other chemical wastes especially in solvent structure.
  15. Sanction by the State government to submit a yearly report to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and also to set up an integrated arrangement for viable execution of these provisions.
  16. Submission by the 30th September of every year which contains a yearly inventory of waste generated, waste reused, recouped, utilised including co-processed should be done by the State Pollution Control Board.

 Amendments in the year 2019 

  1. Solid plastic waste has been rejected from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU).
  2. Exporters of silk waste have now been given prohibition from requiring authorisation from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  3. Electrical and electronic assemblies and segments manufactured in and exported from India if found damaged can now be imported back into the nation, within a year of export, without obtaining consent from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  4. Ventures which do not require consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, are now exempted from requiring approval under the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Trans-boundary Movement) Rules, 2016, provided that hazardous and other wastes generated by such enterprises are handed over to the lawful actual users, waste collectors or disposal facilities.

Other Legislation for Environment Protection

Ministry of Economic Environment was established in the year 1985, it is the apex body which provided rules and regulations for protecting the environment. It has laid down many statutory rules to protect the environment those are:

  • The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986
  • Hazardous Waste Management Regulations
  • E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011
  • Batteries (Management & Handling) Rules, 2001
  • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
  • The Forest Conservation Act, 1980
  • Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002
  • Coastal Regulation Zone Notification

Conclusion 

It is not easy for people to cope with the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, they still feel for their loved ones. They are still not able to live a proper healthy life, still children are being born with diseases and complaint it is hard for them to live. Every industry should follow these safety protocols to dispose of these hazardous waste, they should make sure that no other person is affected by these harmful waste.

 

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