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Muthia Village Hazardous Waste Dumps

Location:
Gujarat, India
Region:
South Asia,
Pollutants:
Chemicals
Source:
Dye Industry, Chemical Manufacturing
Transmission:
water, soil
Potentially affected people:
7,000

The problem

Muthia lies on the eastern periphery of Ahmedabad City. This village land has been acquired by the Naroda Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC). Approximately 60,000 tons of sludge from effluent treatment plants and other untreated waste have been dumped along the boundary between the industrial estate and the village over the last decade.

The legacy waste dumps at Muthia Village have been lying neglected for a decade with no cleanup activity. These hazardous wastes have leached into the groundwater, which has turned yellow and red. Monsoon rains wash and spread the contaminated sludge over wide areas.

Current Activity

In March 2004 a major gas leak from a unit in the nearby Naroda industrial estate prompted the evacuation of Muthia village residents. Two people were taken to a local hospital for treatment. Toxic waste dumped by industry in this village had polluted the groundwater, rendering it dangerous and undrinkable.

Concept Biotech and the Society for Environmental Protection have been studying contamination in this village since 1996. Blacksmith funded the implementation of a three phase clean-up, the last phase of which is the treatment of the site with vermiculture – using worms – which concentrate heavy metals in their bodies, and reduce contamination in the soil.

Originally a site containing an estimated 150 tons of hazardous wastes had been targeted for initiating a pilot-scale intervention project. But when the project commenced, it was discovered that the dumps extended deep into the ground and needed to be excavated.

Heavy machinery and equipment were hired for this purpose. Eventually nearly 3,000 tons of hazardous wastes were excavated from the project site and sent to the hazardous waste disposal facility operated by the Naroda Enviro Projects Ltd (NEPL). The costs of this lifting, which were much greater than the project could have afforded, were borne by local industry, which was a major contribution to the project.

The remaining contaminated ground was then treated with active bacterial inoculants to which five tons of vermi-castings were applied after tilling. In two phases during the monsoon season, around 1,200 litres of solution was applied. The application of worm culture was done every three months after tilling and mulching the soil.

This first plot affected by dumping has been remediated with approx. 60% reduction in select heavy metals, although another round of de-contamination was recommended. The second round of de-contamination using vermin-technology was undertaken. This year approx. 400L of EM solution was applied, followed by introduction 8 tons of vermin-cast and 40 kg worms. The result at the end of second year have proved encouraging with further reduction in the level of heavy metals.

The plot is being monitored every quarter to evaluate the effectiveness of this technology by soil testing and analysis of heavy metals in plant residue.

Outcome

The project has been fully successful, and the site continues to be monitored by local groups. The successful demonstration of this project has built a confidence among the Gujarat State Pollution Control Board (the state regulatory body) to invite us to treat similar sites in Gujarat.

This project was documented by CNN International and aired across the globe in October 2007. (Ref: www.cnn.com/ecosolutions - see Archive; worms).

For a map and photos of the remediation: http://blacksmithinstitute.org/gallery-images/16.html|

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