End Disastrous, Toxic Landfill Fire Hazards

Target: Pradeep Kumar, Chairman of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board

Goal: Ensure proper management of environmental disasters for the safety of residents.

Firefighters struggled for twelve days before they could douse a massive landfill blaze in Kochi. The city now risks the possibility of acid rain due to the aftereffects of the fire at the Brahmapuram waste treatment plant. Landfill fires are almost a regular occurrence in Brahmapuram in the absence of a proper scientific waste management protocol. Studies conducted by the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science & Technology (NIIST) following similar breakouts in 2019 and 2020 concluded that such events aggravate dioxin emissions in the atmosphere to precarious levels. Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director of Centre for Science and Environment, stated that the city management should have had a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in place, citing the earlier disasters.

The GRAP protocol classifies air quality in the event of a disaster and effectively implements safety measures for citizens. Local activists have accused the government of failing to declare an emergency despite the massive inferno. CM Joy, an environmental scientist, commented that the authorities should have declared a health emergency on the second day, when huge plumes of black smoke engulfed the sky.

Dioxins represent the generic categories of unintentionally produced persistent organic pollutants (U-POPs), graded as Type A carcinogens by the World Health Organization (WHO). The NIIST report stated that such toxic particles persist in the human body for 7-12 years and can cause teratogenic and mutagenic effects. The results from the study in 2020 were based on a fire that lasted for only three days. Even then, the dioxin concentration was found to be 16 times higher than the control site measurements. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has announced a probe by a Special Investigation Team of the police.

Dioxins enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure. It is unclear whether the government will finally take steps to ensure public safety from landfill fire exposure. Sign this petition to demand the authorities set up an effective response plan to prevent such disasters in the future.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chairman Kumar,

The Brahmapuram fire disaster has allegedly exposed the residents of Kochi to unprecedented levels of dioxin contamination in the atmosphere. The WHO has classified U-POP contaminations as Type-A carcinogens. An earlier study conducted by the NIIST after a similar fire breakout in 2020 concluded that dioxin contamination is 16 times higher than the control level.

The fire in 2020 lasted only for three days, which is much less compared to the blaze this time that continued for 12 days. The Executive Director of Centre for Science and Environment has stated that the timely enactment of a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) could have protected the residents of Kochi from the adverse health effects.

We demand that the State Pollution Control Board implement its authority to ensure such incidents become a thing of the past.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alex Proimos


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