Myths and Facts

1. MYTH: Copper Production Causes Cancer

FACT

This is medically baseless and scientifically false. Tuticorin ranks 14 among male and ranks 25 among female residents out of 32 districts in Tamil Nadu

Data on Health Indices

TN Cancer Registry Data

  • As per Tamil Nadu Cancer Registry (2014) the district wise statistics: Chennai, Kanchipuram and Coimbatore tops the state with most number of cancer cases – this is Crude Incidence Rate (CIR) on 100,000 of population
  • More Industrialized and less urbanized districts like Tuticorin, Salem and Vellore are relatively better than More urbanized districts like Chennai, Coimbatore, Kanchipuram and Erode
  • Tuticorin ranks 14 among male and ranks 25 among female residents out of 32 districts in Tamil Nadu

(Source: Crude Incidence Rate (CIR) on cancer by DoH, Govt. of Tamil Nadu)

Source: Tamil Nadu Cancer Registry – 2014

Conclusion: The TN Government data reveals that the allegations linking the incidents of cancer or lower fertility rate with Sterlite Copper operations are completely unfounded.

2. MYTH: The Plant causes a lot of pollution through SO2 emissions

FACT

Several industries across Tuticorin burn fuel and emit larger amounts of Sulphur di-oxide emissions. However, Sterlite is the only plant that captures SO2 and converts into Sulphuric acid through Double Contact Double Absorption (DCDA) technology, which is world-renowned.

Overall SO2 Emission Load at Tuticorin vs Sterlite Copper Smelter

  • Thermal power plants are major sources of SO2 emissions at Tuticorin as there are no mechanism for scrubbing or converting as useful product
  • Coal used in power plants normally consists of 0.5 to 2.5%, which then burnt produces Sulphur-di-oxide
  • Govt. owned power plants share of emissions is almost 50.4% and private owned power plants is 48.65%
  • At Sterlite Copper, we have installed 2 Nos. of Sulphuric Acid Plants to convert Sulphur Di-oxide into Sulphuric acid

Conclusion: There is no change in SO2 levels before and after plant closure. Sterlite Copper Smelter based Acid plant emissions contributes to less than 1 % (approx. 4.2 MT/ day) of the total SO2 emissions (approx.458 MT/ day) in Tuticorin

3. MYTH: The Plant Operations have led to low rainfall in Thoothukudi

FACT

  • Tuticorin is a rain shadow region and normally receives very less amount of rainfall.
  • There has been a significant increase in rainfall recorded in last 10 years compared to the rainfall before the years 1997- 2007

Rainfall Trend in Tuticorin

  • Annual average rainfall before commencement of Sterlite operations was 569 mm (from 1990 to 1996)
  • Annual average rainfall after commencement of Sterlite operations is 749 mm (1997 to 2015 – 32% increase in rainfall)
  • On 14th March 2018, Thoothukudi recorded highest ever rainfall in last 63 years

Conclusion: Trend of rainfall in Tuticorin clearly proves that Sterlite has not affected the rainfall rate.

4. MYTH: Majority of the employees are from North India

FACT

More than 70% of our employees are from Tamil Nadu and out of which 70% are from Tuticorin

Sterlite – Employees Diversity

The plant provided direct employment to ~3500 to 4000 people and more than 70% of these employees are from Tamil Nadu. Further, the plant operations impacts more than 20,000 people engaged in various supplier and customer units

5. MYTH: The Plant discharges effluents into the sea and local water bodies

FACT

Sterlite adopts Zero Liquid Effluent discharge from inception as per the CTO and recycles entire waste water in the process. It has State of art facilities such as RO’s, ETP’s, STP’s etc.
This has been acknowledged by 2011 NEERI report:

NEERI 2011 Report – Page 51

6. MYTH: Copper slag is a toxic material

FACT

Copper slag is non toxic / non leaching – utilized for sustainable applications, which include cement manufacturing, road construction, shot blasting applications etc.

Copper Slag – The most environment friendly natural aggregte

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS): accredited Copper slag as a natural aggregate and as a suitable substitute for river sand

Sterlite carried out various studies through reputed institutes like Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC ), Lucknow, Central Electrochemical Research Centre (CECRI ), Karaikudi, National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), Chennai, National institute for Oceanography (NIO), Goa on characteristics (Physical and Chemical Properties) and leachability of slag under various mediums (normal water, acid, alkali and sea
water).

The studies have concluded that copper slag is non-leachable, non-toxic and non-hazardous.

Conclusion: Copper slag is non-leachable, non-toxic and non-hazardous to the environment; the usage of copper slag is environment friendly, as it is a direct substitute to river sand and m-sand in making concrete

7. MYTH: Sterlite Copper has not developed the sufficient green belt as per legal requirement

FACT

As per requirement, the unit developed a total green belt area of 43 Ha in 2012, which is subsequently verified by NEERI in Mar 2012 as well as the Joint inspection team of CPCB & TNPCB in November 2012
The allegation was put to rest by honorable Supreme Court in 2013

Green Belt: Joint Inspection report 2012

Conclusion: The Green Belt has been developed as per the requirement and the same has been verified by the CPCB and the TNPCB in their joint inspection report in 2012.

8. MYTH: Sterlite was asked to deposit Rs. 100 Cr for environmental violations

FACT

  • Between 1999 – 2005 & 2008-2013, the plant operated under a deemed consent. Even though the consent was renewed later, Hon’ble Supreme court cited this non-renewal period as a concern
  • Hence asked us to deposit INR 100 crore to the District Collector to carry out remedial action in case of any environmental damage

Why was Sterlite asked to Deposit Rs. 100 crore?

Why?

  • Between 1999 – 2005 & 2008-2013, the plant operated under a deemed consent
  • As per Water Act 1972, if the consent is not renewed by any Pollution Control Board, it will be a deemed consent
  • In these years, the Consent to Operate was not renewed by TNPCB though we had applied & paid fees for renewal on time
  • During this non-renewal period, all inspections, air and water sampling were conducted regularly by the TNPCB and found within prescribed limits
  • Though the consent was renewed later, Hon’ble Supreme court cited this non-renewal period as a concern
  • Also Hon’ble Supreme Court observed certain deviations in parameters of NEERI reports of the year 1998, 1999 & 2005.
  • The court also observed that it does not warrant a conclusion, that the plant will not be able to take remedial steps for improvement and further appointed a high level monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of 30 recommendations compliance.
  • In view of the above two reasons, the court asked us to deposit INR 100 Crores to the District Collector to carry out remedial action in case of any environmental damage

How much of the Rs. 100 crore fund being utilized?

  • So far this fund has not been used for any pollution abatement measures, which clearly indicates that there is no such concerns
  • The interest amount has only been utilized for community welfare measures

Conclusion: If the fund deposited for taking remedial action of environmental damage is being utilized to build roads, maintain pubic parks; It implies that there were no impact on the environment due to the operations of the industry

9. MYTH: Stack height is not sufficient

FACT

  • TNPCB has revised SO2 emission norms from 4Kg to 1Kg / Tonne of Sulphuric Acid in the year 2005
  • Sterlite has a high-efficiency catalyst in converter beds in the upstream of operations and Tail Gas Scrubbing unit which enabled us to achieve less than 0.8 Kg SO2 / Tonne of Sulphuric Acid produced.

Adequacy of Stack Height

  • TNPCB has revised SO2 emission norms from 4Kg to 1Kg / Tonne of Sulphuric Acid in the year 2005
  • Sterlite has a high efficiency catalyst in converter beds in the upstream of operations and Tail Gas Scrubbing unit
  • Achieved less than 0.8 Kg SO2 / Tonne of Sulphuric Acid produced

Stack Height Calculation

Conclusion: The stack height is more than sufficient with a height of 60m as against the requirement of 55.1m – This requirement is arrived based on the CPCB norms

10. MYTH: Sterlite is located within 25 km from Gulf of Mannar, an ecological sensitive National Marine Park

FACT

  • Sterlite Copper is located in SIPCOT Industrial Complex-a classified area in which many other red category chemical industries are also located with in
  • EIA notification 2006, stipulates a 10 Kms distance to be maintained from industrial operations, reduced from 25 KMs, from the eco-sensitive areas.
  • Technically, Gulf of Mannar is not yet notified as a National Marine Park as per the Environmental Protection Act 1986 or as per Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • This allegation was put to rest by Hon’ble Supreme Court
11. MYTH: The expansion will lead to severe water scarcity locally

Environment clearance for the expansion plant stipulates that no water from natural resources should be used by the industry. In accordance with the requirement, the industry will meet all its water requirements only through desalinated seawater and treated municipal sewage water with help of state of the art Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) from Thoothukudi town.

Verdict: What the court has told in the past?

Judgment: Supreme Court of India – April 02nd, 2013
Civil Appeal Nos. 2776-2783 OF 2013

Judgment: National Green Tribunal – August 08th 2013
Appeal No. 57 and No. 58 of 2013