“Ceylon Waste” Destroys Environment, Central Environmental Authority asleep


Improper operations of an electronic waste (e-waste) management factory (Ceylon Waste Management Pvt Ltd) located at Godaparagahahena, Kiriwattuduwa, Homagama is currently damaging the environment while creating severe health issues to the residents.

How Google 3D map illustrates the area. The highlighted place is the location of the factory. The factory is located in a residential area.

Every company which handles e-Waste, has to alignits practices with special terms and conditions given by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA). As per the Gazette Notification 1534/18 issued in 2008, it is clearly stated that the handling of e-waste (store, transport, recycling, delivering to recycling) has to be under the approval from CEA and per the governing rules and conditions.

The said factory started in 2012 at Godaparagahalanda, Kiriwattuduwa, receives e-wastes from various industries and companies and stack all over their land without considering the guidelines issued by CEA. This has severely contaminated the environment as the rain water carries the heavy metals such as mercury from these stacked and broken e-waste materials to the surrounding environment and water sources. Also during the rainy seasons the contaminated water from the factory freely flows to the paddy fields, drainage lines and nearby lands. This situation has deposited these highly toxic and dangerous heavy metals in lower levels of the area.

Further, the stored electronic hazardous items like TV tubes, computer monitor tubes are broken in open area by freely dropping to the bags without use of any machinery. These broken monitor tubes are filled to larger bags and stacks as they expose to open environment without any of safety concern. Higher noise is there when such crushing process is handling and polluted air with emitted gases & dust spreads all over the area as a result of that. At the moment, it is being continue to impact badly to the environment and to the human health by such illegal activities.

Issuing of Environmental Protection License (EPL) by the CEA, considers the location and the precautionary measures have been taken to protect the environment by the requested party/ factory. With the aspect of risk level and disaster situations, such hazardous industries can only be located in non-residential area but the said factory “Ceylon Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd.” is located in a completely residential area surrounded by houses. Hence the effects are directly experienced by residents at every time.

The high contamination of heavy metals to well water is evidenced by the water report issued by Geological Survey & Mines Bureau (GSMB) by testing a well water sample (AL/17/83) as illustrated below.

The water reports obtained by the residents in this area clearly show the levels of specific materials are far beyond the specified levels. For example, in one such report the mercury content is 20 times greater than the specified upper limit.

According to the World Health Organization specifications, reporting of higher value of Cadmium contamination exposes people to a serious risk level. According to them, pollution of water/air by Cadmium causes serious illnesses such as kidney diseases. Hence this situation has presently created a serious risk to the residents of this area. Further this Cadmium could enter the humans and animals through water and food cycles.

According to a research conducted near river “Missipi”, the Environmental Protection Agency – USA, states that children and pregnant women are highly vulnerable to many illnesses as a result of higher level of Mercury in water or other food media. Especially there can be many types of disabilities during the growth ages of children.

Further Mercury can influence the trees and animals and thereby destroy the nature diversity. It could also poison the food sources. For instance, a half of a tea spoon of Mercury is sufficient to pollute a water reservoir of 25 acres. A report from USA government in 2000, states that reduction of human and animal population can be attributable to the effects of Mercury. As a result of continuous contamination of Mercury to the environment by the factory there can be pollution in other areas in future.

Many worldwide research reports show that heavy metals affect to the entire natural. Pathetically the current issue prevailing in Godaparagahahena is a start to many future environmental and health issues. This is a similar case to Rathupaswala – Vinigoes issue. Many illnesses such as kidney diseases, skin rashes and disabilities to children are being reported after the disaster. This is what is expected to happen to Godaparagahalanda also.

However the residents have filed a case under the Magistrate Courts – Kesbewa bearing the no. 76761 against this illegal factory. The initial conditional order states that conduct of the activities of the factory should be strictly in accordance with the rules and regulations of the CEA and avoid any harmful activities to the human lives. Despite this order still the factory operates violating the rules and damaging the environment. This is a violation of the Act 98(1). The documents and reports issued by institutes like Pradeshiya Sabha, CEA, GSMB provide evidence to the disaster taking place currently.

Even though the factory violates many Acts and Regulations, the CEA has so far not taken any proper actions to shut down “Ceylon Waste Management (Pvt) LTd.”. It is essential that the CEA initiate the necessary legal actions as the factory has been operating without a licence for the year. There is also a possibility of filling a case against the CEA, if it fails to take actions against this factory.

Ravindra Kariyawasam

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