Skip to content

Pondicherry’s Truck Terminal: A Major Illegal Medical Waste Dumpsite and Source of Dioxin Related Compounds

May 18, 2011

Pondicherry’s truck terminal, a large parking lot that seems to always be entirely vacant, has become a major site for illegal dumping of municipal and biomedical waste. I have a morbid attraction to the site because one never knows what surprises it has in store, so I visit rather regularly — so regularly that I now recognize most of the cows that forage there, and they seem to recognize me.

Smoldering rubbish at Pondicherry's truck terminal

Smoldering rubbish at Pondicherry's truck terminal

The entire area is thoroughly littered with medical waste of all sorts, most of it scorched or smoldering. On Sunday, dogs and cows were tearing into the freshest bags of medical waste. By the time the dogs and cows were done, the bags were leaking like Wisconsin ballot bags after what now passes for an “election” in that American state.

Cow rummaging through fresh medical waste

Cow rummaging through fresh medical waste

Cow consuming medical waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

Cow examining medical waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

Cows in illegally dumped medical waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

Cows in illegally dumped medical waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

The situation at the truck terminal is a common sight throughout India. This is extremely alarming because research by teams of Indian and Japanese scientists has found that low-temperature burning of mixed municipal waste in open dumpsites produces dioxin-related compounds that make their way into the food system though livestock that feed in such sites.

Cow eating scorched municipal waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

Cow eating scorched municipal waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

Cow consuming scorched municipal waste, illustrating how dioxin contaminates India's food supply

Cow consuming scorched municipal waste, illustrating how dioxin contaminates India's food supply

Cow eating scorched waste in Pondicherry

Cow eating scorched waste in Pondicherry

Black cow with a load that appears to have come out of a trash compactor

Black cow with a load that appears to have come out of a trash compactor

Cows consuming scorched municipal waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

Cows consuming scorched municipal waste at Pondicherry's truck terminal

A smoldering load that appears to have been dumped by a compactor

A smoldering load that appears to have been dumped by a compactor

The scientists, who have been studying this problem for over three decades, write:

“India also has a problem with the management of its varied solid wastes comprising of domestic, biomedical, agricultural and industrial wastes. Dumpsites of such wastes have been found to be the sites of production of the most dreaded pollutants of the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) group, the dioxins and furans. . . . The levels of many of the persistent toxic chemicals in the Indian environment, food stuff, wildlife and human are one among the highest in the world” (Subramanian and Tanabe 2007).

Breast milk from mothers living around dumpsites in Chennai and Kolkata was contaminated by dioxins at levels hundreds of times higher than the limit set by the World Health Organization. The scientists explain that this is bad because “in utero and lactational exposure to dioxin related compounds may adversely affect the brain development and immune systems of infants and children” (Kinisue et al. 2004).

The scientists write: “Our results suggest that residents living near the dumping site in India have been exposed to relatively high levels of these contaminants, possibly through intake of bovine milk . . . It is anticipated that pollution from dioxin related compounds may further increase and that residue levels in human breast milk may increase in the future because even now the sources of these contaminants are not regulated at all. Control measures to regulate the pollution sources of dioxin related compounds in open dumping sites in Asian developing countries are urgently needed” (Kinisue et al. 2004:423).

Bags of sorted medical waste illegally dumped beside Pondicherry's truck terminal

Bags of sorted medical waste illegally dumped beside Pondicherry's truck terminal

Will Pondicherry’s Pollution Control Committee take action to stop this illegal dumping, or will the land of the Kama Sutra become one big Love Canal?

References

Kunisue, T. et al. 2004. Dioxins and related compounds in human breast milk collected around open dumping sites in Asian developing countries: Bovine milk as a potential source.
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 47(3):414-26

Subramanian, A., and S. Tanabe. 2007. Persistent Toxic Substances in India. Chap. 9 in Developments in Environmental Science, Volume 7. A. Li, S. Tanabe, G. Jiang, J.P. Giesy and P.K.S. Lam (Editors). Elsevier Ltd.

Advertisements
7 Comments leave one →
  1. Raghu Menon permalink
    July 13, 2011 9:41 pm

    Yes, you are right There are also other sites in Pondicherry where they do this openly, in blatant violation of the right to breathe for the common citizens. Another site is near the Pondicherry airport, at Villianur on the sides of the bypass road, at Bahoor on the Kanniakoil – Bahoor road near Inox Air Products etc.

    • Brooks Anderson permalink*
      July 14, 2011 3:49 am

      Raghu,

      Thanks for visiting the site and leaving a comment. I’ve written posts about Pondy’s dump in Karuvadikuppam, beside the airport, and have seen the mess in Villianur, but I’ve not yet seen the situation at Bahoor. I’ll check it out.

      I visited the truck terminal yesterday: it’s as bad as ever.

      Brooks

  2. June 27, 2014 4:13 pm

    Horrible living conditions here. I’m grateful to live in the US. Great article and photos.

    • June 27, 2014 7:32 pm

      Thanks, JP, for visiting the site and leaving your comment. There’s much scope for improvement of medical waste management in India.

  3. Cesar Canales permalink
    August 4, 2014 8:57 pm

    It’s hard to believe this level of disregard for nature and life. We must be aware of the damage that we do to our habitat.

Trackbacks

  1. Source of Illegally Dumped Biomedical Waste Appears To Be Pondicherry’s MGPGI « Clear Impression Documentation Services
  2. Illegal Dumping of Municipal Solid Waste Continues at Pondicherry’s Truck Terminal | Clear Impression Documentation Services

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: