23 September, 2018

Blog

On Water Pollution Issue In Chunnakam

By Murali Vallipuranathan

Dr. Murali Vallipuranathan

Dr. Murali Vallipuranathan

Hon. Justice. C. V. Wigneswaran

Chief Minister of Northern Province
Office of the Chief Minister
No.26,Somasundaram Avenue,
Chundukuli, Jaffna,

Respected Sir,

Water pollution issue at Chunnakam

I am writing to you on this matter on personal capacity as a Specialist in the relevant field (Community Medicine) and as the President of the Jaffna Medical Association. When this issue was brought to my notice in November 2014, I contacted the Health Ministry Officials in Colombo and arranged for samples to be collected from the suspected wells and to be reported by the Government Analyst. In addition I organized a symposium with relevant stake holders and researchers to discuss this most serious public health problem affecting Jaffna during the Annual Sessions of the Jaffna Medical Association in December 2014. Several medical professionals and other technical experts attended this symposium and were enlightened on this escalating problem. At the same time a report containing detailed analysis of the ground water quality conducted by the Regional Laboratory of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Jaffna from 2012 to 2014 was released and proved that the wells around the Chunnakam fossil fuel power station have been contaminated not only with petroleum waste but also through lead a toxic heavy metal. A subsequent epidemiological research by me and other researchers (abstract annexed) provided further evidence that the power plant area is the point source for contamination and disproved alternative arguments that the ground water in Chunnakam could have been contaminated by other sources such as filling stations in the area.

While waiting for the reports from the Government Analyst, may I suggest the following for your kind consideration and urgent action.

1. To locate the places where the toxic waste products were dumped and initiate early action to remove those products safely. There is sufficient evidence to prove that a huge pool containing the petroleum effluents existed in 2012 within the Chunnakam CEB area and that disappeared without any trace. The CEB and their subcontractors should explain how this disappeared and how that leads to continuing spread from the same location as shown by our research.

2. To seal the wells showing evidence of Lead contamination. The report by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Jaffna stated that out of the 50 wells tested for lead contamination 4 wells showed lead levels above the accepted limits. It is very important to locate these wells without delay and seal them to prevent from any kind of use as lead has the potential of entering the food chain and causing toxicity even if the polluted wells are used for agriculture or other purposes. Further all the wells in the affected area should be tested for evidence of lead and other heavy metals.

3. To provide water in sufficient quantity (at least 3-4 litres per person for drinking purpose) and in satisfactory quality to all the residents in the affected area

4. To use water filters in the affected area. As it is not practically possible to distribute water to all the polluted areas and since there have been allegations of oil contamination in the water supplied by the water board, cheap activated carbon filters could be used for domestic purposes. Activated carbon filters have been used to clean oil contamination and reduce lead in water for home use (1), (2), (3), (4).

5. To issue leaflets to the public in the area providing accurate scientific information in simple terms while allaying their anxiety.

6. To initiate legal action against those who are responsible for this pollution and make them accountable by providing suitable compensation to the affected people.

As President of the Jaffna Medical Association along with other medical experts and researchers I look forward to support your efforts to solve this problem.

Thank you

Dr. Murali Vallipuranathan
MBBS, PGD (Population Studies). MSc, MD (Community Medicine), FCCP
President, Jaffna Medical Association
Board Certified Specialist in Community Medicine
16, 4/5, Vanderwart Place
Dehiwela

References:
1. http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/live/g1489/build/g1489.pdf
2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110062111000031
3. http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water-education/quality-water-filtration-method-carbon.htm
4. http://www.filtersfast.com/articles/Guide-to-Water-Purification.php

Copies to:
1. Dr.Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health

2. Dr. P.G. Mahipala, DGHS, Ministry of Health

3. President, Government Medical Officer’s Association

4. President, Sri Lanka Medical Association

5. President, College of Community Physicians

6. Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Jaffna

7. Dr.S.Sivakumar, Head, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Jaffna

8. Dr.A.Ketheeswaran, RDHS, Jaffna

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Latest comments

  • 2
    8

    The rail road was built recently. Could petrochemicals used in machinery have contaminated the water table? It was built by Indians. So hygiene could not have been given a higher priority.

    From what I have seen the the power station seems to follow high standards when disposing waste. They have been there for many years. The only new comer to the area is the Indian company that built the railway.

    In addition to the power station, the railway and bus stations close by should be considered as possible contamination sources.

    • 6
      1

      /From what I have seen the the power station seems to follow high standards when disposing waste./

      What have you seen, mate?

      I suspect, Jaffna Bus Depot in Kondavil has some influence. But, the Power Station seems to have played a significant role.

    • 5
      1

      aiyo vibhushana now you really shown that your a fool with no common sense

      IRCON built the railway using raw materials,rail engines,wagons and labour,the only oil waste is from the rail engines which is under the CGR and not IRCON and that is a negligilble amount and CGR im sure dispose them in th right way

      rest of the raw meterials dont produce oil!so dont blame them and please get your IQ tuned well

      as for the oil pollution it has apparently been going on since CEB times when they managed the jaffa power supply till 1990 and got really worse when the private company managed it from 1996 – till very recently( i think the company was Walkers if im correct)

      righ the now the disaster management committee in jaffna is working hard to gather historical facts and try rectify the damage and also the judiciary witll have to take action against the culprits ,oh before you say the the jaffna officials TNA proxies,let me assure you that its headed some very senior recently retired Army officers

    • 1
      0

      Hi Vibhushana why do you want to exhibit your ignorance and racist character over and over again.

  • 3
    6

    Dear Dr Murali,
    Sorry, don’t have time to look into things like this, I’m too busy playing to the racist separatist We Thamizh gallery.

    Kind regards,
    Hon. Wiggie

    • 5
      1

      well nice to see your comical comment siva sankaran ‘blacker’ sarma

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 4
    1

    Dear Dr. Murali Vallipuranathan,

    The NCP and TNA know well that a certain group of people has been exaggerating this minor problem to see that the TNA loses many seats in the forthcoming parliamentary election. We will overcome this and safeguard the interests of the “International Community.”

    CM
    NPC

  • 1
    4

    Well, respected Doctor… Probably you have to stick to your medical profession. Your assertion that the heavy fuel has lead at a level of concern in it has no proof. Your references are trash! Three of them are mere promotion material on cartridge filters and background on adsorption. Only one paper has some substance, but it talks about removing oil from 10-1000 mg/L to 7-700 mg/L. We are talking about oil and grease at 10 mg/L, and removal at that level may not bring the concentration to less than 1 mg/L. Where is your paper and your results????

  • 3
    0

    Regarding Point No.3 – the immediate need – drinking water, I made a suggestion to the CM to consider a Desalination plant up north for
    supply upto Chunnakam, similar to such Projects that are being undertaken around Chennai, by a local Authority there.
    This reminds me of the USD 350 million water project in Hambantota by an Israeli firm, of which USD 185 million was the Commission to some
    politician, as reported elsewhere today !!!!

  • 4
    0

    Dr.Murali

    Was there any investigation conducted to find out whether there may any foul or wilful and deliberate attempt to pollute the water in those areas as this pollution would not go as far as Tellppallai area.

  • 2
    4

    There is also the possibility of increasing the fertility levels of Northern war widows by adding fertility treatment to the water supply. As an alternative to polygamy that is.

  • 0
    1

    One should not underestimate the problem by saying that it is all right to drink this water. At the same time, it is not right either to overestimate the dimension of this challenge and panic!

    Jaffna has a perpetual water challenge. But, one cannot build a desalination plant overnight. For immediate needs, one can come up with some package plants. But, we must have a big picture water plan for the peninsula to address groundwater, lagoon and clean up of the polluted acuifer.

  • 0
    0

    27th October, 2009

    Member,
    Task Force Appointed by the President for
    Rehabilitation Reconstruction of North & East,
    Secretary,
    Ministry of Urban Development,
    Sethsiripaya,
    Battaramulla.

    Dear Sir,

    WATER TABLE OF JAFFNA – CONSERVATION, ARRESTING OF FLOOD WATER DURING RAINING SEASON AND LEAKAGE INTO THE SEA THROUGH UNDERGROUND TUNNELS / CHANNELS.

    The above subject is of paramount importance for the people of Jaffna Peninsula and the area. This subject is of great scientific hydrological engineering importance, and was discussed at various forums. But no tangible action was taken so far.

    In 1983, some officials / hydrologist of the, Overseas Development Assistance, U.K visited Jaffna / ootru organization, and the above subject was discussed. At the end of the discussion, it was decided to initiate linkages with ODA/UK for consultancy and assistance for implementation arising from their findings.

    But, due to circumstances beyond control, did not permit this to be perused with O.D, A/U.K through the proper government channels.

    The sub terranean caverns, I understand, are big reservoirs, which could form the water supply source, to water scarse areas of Jaffna.

    This project will have to be address, the fundamental and long term solutions, to this problem, by the government of Sri Lanka. This a challenge to our professionals, in collaboration with overseas knowledge resource personals and institutions

    As such I humbly request you to initiate proper investigation, consultancy and necessary action to address the long felt need, to work on this subject, and find solutions.

    Thanking you.

    Yours sincerely

    Old Yarlppanathan

  • 0
    0

    27th October, 2009

    Member,
    Task Force Appointed by the President for
    Rehabilitation Reconstruction of North & East,
    Secretary,
    Ministry of Urban Development,
    Sethsiripaya,
    Battaramulla.

    Dear Sir,

    WATER TABLE OF JAFFNA – CONSERVATION, ARRESTING OF FLOOD WATER DURING RAINING SEASON AND LEAKAGE INTO THE SEA THROUGH UNDERGROUND TUNNELS / CHANNELS.

    The above subject is of paramount importance for the people of Jaffna Peninsula and the area. This subject is of great scientific hydrological engineering importance, and was discussed at various forums. But no tangible action was taken so far.

    In 1983, some officials / hydrologist of the, Overseas Development Assistance, U.K visited Jaffna / ootru organization, and the above subject was discussed. At the end of the discussion, it was decided to initiate linkages with ODA/UK for consultancy and assistance for implementation arising from their findings.

    But, due to circumstances beyond control, did not permit this to be perused with O.D, A/U.K through the proper government channels.

    The sub terranean caverns, I understand, are big reservoirs, which could form the water supply source, to water scarse areas of Jaffna.

    This project will have to be address, the fundamental and long term solutions, to this problem, by the government of Sri Lanka. This a challenge to our professionals, in collaboration with overseas knowledge resource personals and institutions

    As such I humbly request you to initiate proper investigation, consultancy and necessary action to address the long felt need, to work on this subject, and find solutions.

    Thanking you.

    Yours sincerely

    On behalf of people of Jaffna

    Old Yarlppanathan

  • 0
    0

    Did Hon.C.V Wigneswaran or his ministers respond to your letter? The contaminated well should not be sealed but should be fenced out and left open to the sun light. Skimmers should be used to collect the floating oil. Ozone, oxygen, or compressed air should be pumped in to accelerate the disintegration of oil particles. Fresh water weeds and bacteria that will survive in oil should be introduced. Earlier it is done is better before more wells get contaminated.

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