Alarm sounded over untreated service station effluents

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The Toxicology and National Poison Information Centre (TNPIC), of the National Hospital, yesterday warned that harmful chemicals were being released to the environment and ground water through untreated waste released from most vehicle service stations countrywide.

TNPIC Head, Consultant Physician Dr. Waruna Gunathilake told The Island that a severe threat was posed to the environment by service stations set up near wetlands, paddy fields and other agricultural lands.

"Most service stations set up recently did not follow a proper system to minimise the release water contaminated with several chemicals," he said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists, too, charged that the Central Environmental Authority was generally deaf and blind to such happenings with its officials and experts nicely resting in comfortable air conditioned offices near the nation’s capital, though there many polluting service stations even in close proximity to their workplace.

Dr. Gunathilake said that thousands of mini-service stations had mushroomed countrywide, with the increasing vehicle population, but the environmental authorities had to be careful not only about the waste released to the environment, but also the health of their workers.

Dr. Gunathilake said that in the process of servicing a vehicle, engine oil, lubricants, grease and washing liquids etc. were released to the environment.

"With such effluents, there could be chemicals including Benzene and Phosphate, which are very harmful and carcinogenic," Dr. Gunathilake said.

The Senior Physician said that they conducted a study regarding the complaints received by the TNPIC from people in the hill country.

He said that, according to the survey, there was a threat of polluting water catchments by service stations set up in hilly areas.

Dr. Gunathilake said in the developed countries such waste was treated before being released. 

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