31 August 1998 00:00 [Source: ICB]
ICI faces allegations that health and safety failures at some of its non-UK plants may be putting workers and nearby residents at risk.
The allegations, made on the BBC Radio 4 programme, Face the Facts, in late August, centre around the company's Rishra Chemical plant near Calcutta, India. The programme alleged that workers had been exposed to dangerous levels of aniline, and that workers at the plant are not provided with safety clothing when performing some hazardous tasks.
###6832###Additionally it pointed the finger at ICI for the condition of a dump just outside the perimeter of the plant, which, the programme said, contains a large number of old ICI drums.
The local chemical workers union has referred 116 men from the plant to Kunal Kuhmadotra, a local respiratory specialist. He told listeners that 23% had aniline poisoning and 6% had serious conditions. Kuhmadotra said that he has no doubt that the poisonings were directly related to toxic aniline exposure.
Researchers for the programme photographed workers clearing 'a black tarry waste product in their bare feet'.
The radio programme also asked Mike Matthews, an environmental consultant based in the UK, to analyse a sample of the waste from a dump just beyond the perimeter of the plant.
According to Face the Facts, the dump contained a large number of containers marked with the ICI logo. Matthews told listeners that the sample contained at least 29 different chemicals which are 'reaction products or intermediaries'.
ICI's vice president for health, safety, and the environment, Frank Rose, told listeners that the dump 'is not owned by us or operated by us, it's not used by us'. He also said that the chemicals found in the soil sample are not in use in any of ICI's products at the plant. He added that there had been an aniline incident in 1994 and that details had been passed to the local authority.
Rose promised to take up the picture of workers shovelling waste in their bare feet 'as a matter of urgency with our local management'.
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