Hazardous waste management is a complex, critical, and challenging environmental issue. Hazardous wastes release harmful materials into the environment. The unscientific treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes pose significant risks to human, animal, and plant life. Later remediation of contaminated sites is expensive.
In 1989, the Ministry of Environment & Forests notified the Hazardous Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules to deal with various environmental aspects related to hazardous wastes. Before 1989, several industries dumped their hazardous wastes on open land. Today, there are more than 100 hazardous waste contaminated sites across the country that poses significant risks to human, animal, and plant life.
CSIR-NEERI has been providing environmentally sound solutions for the safe management of hazardous wastes. CSIR-NEERI has been assisting numerous industries, various regulatory agencies, viz. Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central and State Pollution Control Boards, on various issues of hazardous wastes management, viz. waste minimization, reuse/recycle, treatment & disposal.
Operation of mercury thermometer factory from 1984 to 2001 by Hindustan Unilever Ltd. in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, resulted in mercury contamination of soil in the factory premises., The soil mercury concentration ranged from 0 to 500 mg/kg. CSIR-NEERI developed the technology for remediation of mercury-contaminated soil using soil washing and thermal retorting. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. successfully commissioned a full-scale soil remediation plant based on this technology. The full-scale remediation is under progress, and the remediated soil mercury levels are well below the remediation standard of 20 mg/kg.
From 1975 to 2016, Zuari Industries Ltd., Goa, generated and stored nearly 500 cu. m. of liquid arsenic waste. The arsenic concentration in these wastes ranged from 2 to 10 %. CSIR-NEERI developed a novel, cost-effective technology which involved direct stabilization and solidification of the liquid wastes containing highly concentrated arsenic. The technology was successfully implemented on a full scale at Zuari Industries Ltd. Goa to safely dispose the entire quantity of 500 cu. m. of these wastes. The stabilized and solidified wastes, conforming to various national and international regulatory tests, were safely and successfully disposed of in a secure containment system.
CSIR-NEERI is equipped with a skilled workforce and the state-of-the-art analytical facilities required to assess and manage hazardous wastes. To date, CSIR-NEERI has completed more than 60 projects on various aspects of hazardous waste management.
Dr. A. Ramesh Kumar
Dr. M.P. Patil
Dr. A.N. Vaidya