Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Rampal plant will be second class with outdated technology: Sundarbans protection panel  

  • Staff Correspondent bdnews24.com
    Published: 2016-10-07 22:36:18 BdST

bdnews24

The National Committee for Protection of the Sundarbans has come up with an independent report by five international experts to urge the prime minister to jettison the Rampal power plant project.

At a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity on Friday, committee Convener Sultana Kamal said, "We request the prime minister to stop the government's circulation of factually incorrect details on Rampal coal-based power plant project and scrap it immediately keeping in mind the environmental and collective good of the people of the country."

Referring to the report by the experts, Sultana said Rampal power plant will be "a second class power plant with outdated and inadequate technology that is insufficient to prevent unacceptable negative impacts to the Sundarbans and local community health".

The report says flooding and earthquake risk, which could lead to the contamination of surrounding waterways with toxic heavy metals, was not fully considered while initiating the project.

It warned about environmental hazards and financial risk from which the country may find it impossible to recover.

Sultana said that these 'facts' have prompted them to urge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to consider abandoning the project.

The proposed 1320 MW thermal power project is a joint initiative between India and Bangladesh and is the outcome of three agreements they signed in 2013.

The project is being executed by Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Private Limited.

The project has been at the centre of a fierce opposition by environmentalist groups that believe the project could wreak havoc on the ecosystem of the UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Sundarbans.

The company had recently claimed to have found 36 errors in a UNESCO letter to the government which had also asked it to consider scrapping the project in view of the environmental hazards it poses to the Sundarbans.

In the report, Indian air pollution control expert and fuel adviser Ranajit Sahu has estimated the extent of air pollution, US environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance's Donna Lisenby has projected the water pollution risks, California University Professor Deb Niemeier has estimated the coal ash effect from the project.

US geologist Charles H Norris has also studied the options of coal ash removal from the project while Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory research scientist Professor Klaus H Jacob has been consulted in preparing the report.

'Findings'

The report claims -

>> The proposed NOx (nitrogen oxide) controls are typical of coal units that are roughly 30 years old. Such a system would never be permitted in developed countries.

>> The inadequate technology for the removal of particulate matter and mercury may lead these substances to accumulate in the aquatic food chain of fish and crustaceans of the Sundarbans.

>> Despite being a must in India, Rampal power plant won't recycle or reclaim water and instead pump it from the Pashur river for coal dust suppression, plant cooling, flue gas scrubber waste removal, and ash disposal.

>> The plant will add water to coal ash, creating toxic wet coal ash slurry.

>> A 26-kilometre stretch from the Bay of Bengal to the plant, which is home to fish, crustaceans and dolphins, will have to be dredged. 

>> The water-only sprinkler system for controlling coal dust is relatively ineffective and will let 2 to 3.8 tonnes coal dust escape into the air and water each year.

>> The poorly planned plant is exposed to very high-risk of coastal storm floods and seasonal river floods accelerated by climate change and sea level rise.

>> There are under-assessed risks of giant earthquakes, regional and local ground motion amplification and resonances, and river avulsions, which may have serious negative consequences.