Soil contamination and groundwater contamination are two major global problems which require ongoing evaluation and revision of water resource policy at all levels in all chemical industries. Very few industrial units have reportedly taken necessary safety precautions to minimise threat to land and groundwater. C.Mahadevan, Senior HSE consultant and Chemical expert explains the seriousness of the issue.
It has been reported that water pollution is the leading worldwide cause of deaths and diseases and that it accounts for the deaths of many people daily. An estimated 580 people in India die of water pollution-related illness every day. Around 90% water in the cities of China is polluted, and, as of 2007, half a billion Chinese had no access to safe drinking water.
In addition to the acute problems of water pollution in developing countries, developed countries continue to struggle with pollution problems as well. In the most recent national report on water quality in the United States, 45% of assessed stream miles, 47% of assessed lake acres, and 32% of assessed bays and estuarine square miles were classified as polluted.
Today’s environmental and technical regulations provide a stringent set of requirements for preventing and controlling possible sources of soil contamination and groundwater contamination caused by spills and releases to soil, water, and air. However, certain industrial sites may have been operating for many decades, when environmental standards were less stringent than they are today, and when knowledge about the environmental impact of industrial contamination was more limited. Where past contamination exists, it may represent an environmental liability that the owner of the current site must manage.
There are two aspects which industries should look into: first, assessing soil contamination and groundwater contamination in running sites, the second, protection of soil and groundwater in operational sites. The baseline for an industrial or storage site is an assessment of known ground and groundwater contamination on the site and in the surrounding area which will form the basis for an improvement programme. To achieve this, sites have to follow certain important norms. They are:
(Read the full article in the December issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2015)