14 August 2007 15:48 [Source: ICIS news]
By Prema Viswanathan
SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--The ongoing furore over the feared environmental impact of Tata Chemicals’ Tanzanian soda ash project brings into focus once more the knife edge on which chlor-alkali producers have to tread.
It is to the credit of India's Tata Chemicals, the world’s third largest soda ash producer, that it has not adopted a defensive posture but has instead expressed its commitment to conform to prevailing environmental standards. If the company does indeed stick to its word, it will go a long way towards enhancing the credibility of the chlor-alkali industry.
The chlor-alkali major is conducting due diligence for the 500,000 tonne/year soda ash plant near ?xml:namespace>
Conservation groups were outraged over the proposed soda ash factory as it threatened the survival of the entire east African population of lesser flamingos, according to recent media reports.
The chlor-alkali industry is no stranger to controversy. But it may come as a surprise to some that Indian chlor-alkali companies have actually acquitted themselves relatively well on the environment compared with their counterparts in
More than 90% of
This is in contrast to the situation in
However, it is too early to celebrate. The Indian public is still paying for the industry’s past sins. The mercury emissions released by Indian plants in the 1990s continue to pose a health hazard to people, wildlife and marine life, as they hugely exceeded permissible limits.
Also disheartening is the fact that the industry in India lags far behind its US and European counterparts in logistics. Indian players say it is imperative for the government to improve the road, rail and port infrastructure to enable the easy and non-hazardous transportation of chlor-alkali products.
When it comes to safety and environmental standards, there can be no compromise. And it is the responsibility of governments as much as of the industry to ensure that these standards are adhered to.
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