A ‘minor acid’ leak was discovered at the plant in June, which Sterlite claimed happened because the TN government had shut off power supply to the plant.

99 per cent chemicals cleared from Sterlite plant says Thoothukudi administration
news Sterlite Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 08:41

Over a month after a ‘minor acid leak’ was discovered at the now defunct Sterlite copper smelter in Thoothukudi district, district collector Sandeep Nanduri has said that 99% of the sulphuric and phosphoric acids have been cleared from the premises.

Speaking to media persons in Thoothukudi, Sandeep Nanduri said, “For nearly 27 days, work to remove chemicals and other materials has been ongoing at the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi. As of now, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid and other acids have been removed 99%. Only the (material) at the bottom tank, which cannot be sucked out, remains. We are neutralising it there itself by adding other material. As far as petroleum products are concerned, LPG, high speed diesel and furnace oil have either been sent to their sister concern, i.e., other companies or it is consumed inside.”

He added, “Only 3- 4 materials are remaining, mainly gypsum, rock phosphate and copper concentrate. Other than this, all other materials are almost removed. There is a large quantity of these three materials. There is low availability of buyers for the copper concentrate. So they are searching for buyers. If extra time is needed, they will have to seek permission from the government.”

The collector’s statement comes on the same day that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) declined Vedanta’s request – for a second time – to grant an interim stay on Tamil Nadu Government’s order to shut down Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi. It also declined the request to permit Sterlite to maintain the unit, posting the matter for final hearing on August 9.

Read: Sterlite plant to remain shut, NGT refuses Vedanta's request for interim stay

On June 18, there was an acid leak at the plant, which Sterlite claimed had happened as the Tamil Nadu government had disconnected the electricity to the plant on May 23, thus preventing Sterlite from undertaking basic maintenance work inside the plant. It also alleged that the acid leak was serious and could have catastrophic consequences, and urged the TN government to provide minimal power supply to fix the issue.