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Highly polluted effluent
1-meter diameter pipe spewing red coloured effluent in Daman Ganga River.

Some 250-270 million litres of highly toxic industrial wastewater, including heavy metals, is released to the environment daily in three industrial estates in Gujarat, in India, reveals a Greenpeace study today. Greenpeace says the survey demonstrates money being wasted in the existing end-of-pipe trapping technologies, and called the World Bank to stop promoting these non-solutions.

Greenpeace activists, together with local representatives, posted warning signs today in Vapi – one of the industrial areas affected by wastewater outfalls from the Common Effluent Treatment Plant at Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC). Greenpeace declared the area contaminated with industrial poisons that could severely damage life.

Site declared a global hotspot
Green Peace activist walking over a dump of toxic material.
Sampling the toxic effluent
Green Peace activites

Protesting in front of a 1-meter diameter pipe spewing red coloured effluent in Vapi GIDC with placards that read "Stop Toxics Pollution," Greenpeace activists demanded Indian government come clean on providing reliable information about industrial pollution to communities, and adopt progressive policies aimed at preventing pollution.

"End-of-pipe pollution control technologies such as the Common Effluent Treatment Plants promoted by the World Bank are a waste of money. They do not destroy dangerous pollutants such as heavy metals and organic poisons and are a threat to a healthy environment and to the lives of people in the neighbourhood," said Nityanand Jayaraman, Greenpeace's Asia Toxics Campaigner.

Greenpeace's survey focused on analysing samples of "treated" and untreated industrial wastewater from rivers in the Gujarat region, and three industrial estates located at Ankleshwar, Nandesari and Vapi, near Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) – promoted as a “magic” solution to combat pollution. The areas were contaminated with highly toxic poisons, including persistent and life-threatening pollutants – polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorobenzene and toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, chromium, copper and mercury.

“There are no magic technologies to make pollution disappear. Landfills, CETPs and Incinerators are all polluting technologies; the only solution is to invest in clean production processes that eliminate the use of toxic chemical inputs," said Nityanand Jayaraman.

Some of the poisons found in the Gujarat industrial estates are persistent in the environment and poisonous in very low doses. Some of these chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene are global pollutants that not only contaminate the local environment, but can circulate around the globe. End-of-pipe pollution trapping technologies such as Common Effluent Treatment Plants do not have any ability to deal with these poisons and pollutants such as toxic heavy metals. Analyses of groundwater from a farmer's well found pollutants such as trichloroethene, cancer-causing benzene and chlorobenzenes: The results suggest that industrial pollution may already have contaminated groundwater sources.

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