Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) has announced that it has commenced soil remediation on a trial basis at its former factory site in Kodaikanal. HUL has received all the required statutory permissions and has completed the preparatory work required to start the soil remediation trial. The company will conduct the trial for a period of three months in accordance with the Detailed Project Report and as per the approval given by the local regulatory authority, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
On April 20, 2017, the Southern Zone Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Chennai passed an interim order upholding the consent granted by TNPCB to HUL for commencing soil remediation on trial basis. This petition was filed by a group of people who had sought quashing of the order issued by the TNPCB.
The trial will be monitored by the TNPCB, the Scientific Experts Committee (SEC), constituted by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The TNPCB and SEC will review the results of the trial submitted by HUL and decide the Site Specific Target Level (SSTL) for the soil remediation process.
Mr. Dev Bajpai, Executive Director, Legal and Corporate Affairs of HUL, said, “HUL has been unwavering in its commitment to clean up the contaminated site in its former factory premises in a manner that is fully protective of the environment and human health. The commencement of the soil remediation trial is an important step in our efforts to bring this issue to closure at the earliest possible.”
HUL had received permission on December 30, 2016, from TNPCB to do preparatory work and seek approvals from local authorities to commence soil remediation trial. The approval from TNPCB for the soil remediation trial was to treat the soil to the maximum extent to reduce the mercury level not restricting to a level of 20 mg/kg. HUL had immediately initiated preparatory work and engaged with the concerned regulatory authorities to seek approvals. .
In July 2008, TNPCB had granted permission for remediation of the soil in the factory premises. Pre-remediation work had commenced at the site. However, this process was stalled due to concerns raised by the NGOs. In order to address these concerns, TNPCB had advised HUL to commission additional studies with eminent national institutions.
The regulatory process for soil remediation was based on a review of additional studies conducted by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Delhi, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow and the Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation Research Centre, Ooty (formerly called Central Soil and Water Conservation Research & Training Institute). These institutions had been engaged as directed by TNPCB and the SEC subsequent to their project review meeting in January 2010.
IIT Delhi revalidated the Risk Assessment Study and site specific clean-up standard; National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, studied the impact on trees and preservation of trees; and the Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation Research Centre, Ooty, studied the impact on soil and soil erosion. The findings of these additional studies were submitted to TNPCB and SEC in February 2011.
TNPCB and SEC reviewed the findings of these additional studies and had consulted with the CPCB and subsequently directed HUL to submit a revised DPR in May 2015. HUL submitted the DPR in August 2015.
About Hindustan Unilever Limited
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India's largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods company with its products touching the lives of nine out of ten households in India. HUL works to create a better future every day.