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In a press release, HLL said the health of the employees was not affected in any way and there had been no environmental damage to the areas surrounding the factory.
HLL had closed down its thermometer factory at Kodaikanal on March 8, 2001 and claimed that ever since it had kept the media informed of ``the various steps taken for remediation of the site and the environmental audit carried out in consonance with NGOs like Greenpeace and statutory authorities like TNPCB.'' These have shown that ``there has been no impact on the health of employees and no damage has been caused to the Kodai Lake or other environs of this hill station.''
Responding to criticism from an environmental group, Indian People's Tribunal, HLL said it had shared the summary of the conclusions from the Final Report of the Independent Assessments by URS (earlier URS Dames and Moore, an international environmental consulting firm) and also the conclusion of toxicology expert, Tom van Teunenbroek.
The URS reports include a detailed plan for the remedial measures inside the plant since there were deposits at concentrations between 0.1mg and 10 mg per kg in shallow depths within the premises. ``In June 2002, the report was submitted to the Working Committee, comprising officials of TNPCB, representatives of Greenpeace and other NGOs and representatives of the industry. It was discussed at the Working Committee meeting in October 2002.'' The committee accepted the report.
HLL said employees at the plant were subjected to periodic medical examinations. They used protective gear and were fully aware of safety precautions. Hence, there was no impact on the health of workers. Also, there have been no deaths due to mercury related exposure.
The study had shown that even on ``worst assumptions'', less than one per cent of the 136.5 tonnes of mercury was lost to the atmosphere over the last 18 years, an average of about 15 ml per day.
This is a discharge of approximately 75 kg a year, which the URS study points out compares favourably with the 140 tonnes that is estimated to be released each year in the U.S. from sources like the coal-fired power stations, incinerators, chlor alkali production and other sources.
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