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Saturday, July 2, 2011

OSPCB’s notice to close four Thermal Power Plants in Orissa

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Fly ash disposal and management is a major environmental and legal responsibility of thermal power plants but many of them don’t take it seriously unless law enforcement agencies take strong steps. Such a case relates to Super Thermal Power Plants of the National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) located in Orissa.

In spite of repeated directions and show cause notices from the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) to take corrective measures on fly ash disposal mechanism, the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited failed to address concerns over disposal of fly ash generated by four units of Talcher Super Thermal Power Stations (TSTPS) at Kaniha in Angul district of Orissa. This had led the OSPCB to conduct a personal hearing on the issue. Finally, the OSPCB asked the NTPC on June 28, 2011 to stop power generation at these units.

Sidhant Das, the Member Secretary of OSPCB has reportedly said that the OSPCB has issued closure notice for four out of total six power generating units at TSTPS because the company failed to put forward any robust mechanism to dispose huge volumes of ash being generated from its six units.

The mine void
As per reports, a mine void located at a distance of about 45 km from Kaniha was identified for TSTPS for disposal of its ash but no concrete progress was made on this front. The OSPCB has estimated that TSTPS discharges about 6 lakh metric tonnes of ash slurry per month into ash ponds.

The power deficit
The four NTPC units that have received closure notice belong to NTPC’S Stage II operation and each unit generates 5oomw of thermal power annually. The combined thermal power generation of all the six units is 3000 mw per annum. If power generation from these plants is halted, several stages are likely to face power deficit.

Ash ponds
The fly ash from thermal power plants is generated from burning of coal. Four ash ponds were constructed near the site to dump the fly ash. These ash ponds as per assessment of OSPCB are expected to achieve full capacity by the month of October 2011. If four units are closed the remaining space in ponds is expected to be filled within a year.

It is reported that OSPCB had given three choices to NTPC and these choices were – raising dyke of ash pond, disposal of ash in the form of high density slurry and transportation of ash through pipeline into a mining void. The company reportedly did not show any visible progress with regard to three alternatives.

Earlier in the month of May 2011, the OSPCB officials observed cracks in one of these ponds. The cracks were developed due to high pressure of ash. However, the crack was repaired in time. It is important to note that if breached, the ash contained in an ash pond can cause serious land and water pollution and can ruin crop in a vast area.

Key Words : Orissa, flyash,OSPCB, NTPC

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