The Invisible Tsunami  

Posted by Ray in

None can forget what happened on December 26, 2004. The Indian Ocean Tsunami stuck the coastal towns in Tamilnadu. Cuddalore, my hometown, was badly hit. But there is another tsunami that is hitting Cuddalore everyday. This one is invisible and is having a much severe effect on the lives of thousands of Cuddaloreans.

Cuddalore has recently earned the dubious distinction of being one of the many global toxic hotspots. The stench that emanates from the various industries in the SIPCOT stretch of Cuddalore is unbearable. The chemical plants release untreated water in to the nearby water bodies thereby completely altering the chemical composition of water. A large amount of untreated sewage is released in to the Bay of Bengal.

A recent report from the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute states that, “People living in and around a special economic zone in Cuddalore are “2,000 times more” likely to be affected by cancer than the normal population”. Now this is something that cannot be taken lightly. A few alarming statistics in the report are:

  • Levels of Benzene - a chemical that causes blood cancer among children - were 125 times higher than safe levels.
  • Carcinogens like chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, methylene chloride and trichloroethylene were 881, 553, 32.5 and 21.8 times respectively higher than acceptable levels.
These numbers are very disturbing not to mention the fact that the NEERI states that the results are a “conservative estimate” as “most of the industries are not operating to capacity on days of sampling”.

Just a little bit of googling will tell you how harmful these chemicals are.
  • Eating foods or drinking beverages containing high levels of benzene can cause the following symptoms within minutes to several hours: Vomiting, Irritation of the stomach, Dizziness, Sleepiness, Convulsions, Rapid or irregular heartbeat, Death (at very high levels) (Source: CDC).
  • Exposure to Chloroform may cause liver cancer.
  • Carbon tetrachloride may cause liver and kidney malfunction and in some cases even death.
  • Methylene chloride is known to cause lung, liver and pancreatic cancer.
  • Trichloroethylene is carcinogenic as well.
The TNPCB has decided to turn a blind eye to this issue. The reasoning behind not doing anything about this problem is that the area is already 'spoiled' and hence more industries are being opened in Cuddalore. On one hand, these new industries will bring job opportunities, but at the same time if left un-checked they might very well add more chemicals to the toxic-pool called Cuddalore.

You can help by signing this online petition.

This entry was posted on August 18, 2008 at Monday, August 18, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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