In Coimbatore, plastic and leather wastes stockpiled waiting to be burned as "fuel" at the Madukkarai cement works spontaneously combusted in a three hour fire that did not result in any known injuries at the plant.
However, thick columns of black smoke poured into the sky and that stuff, as the late Dr. Commoner would note, has to go somewhere. A lot of it will no doubt dind its way into the lungs of downwind residents. More than 200 tons of waste was gutted in the fire out of at total twice as large.
Despite local fire officials urging the cement plant to enclose the waste for some time, it had not done so. That is an apparent violation of state law. And readers, will it surprise you in the least to learn that the plant was already a longtime source of complaints from local residents?
Meanwhile the Fire and Rescue Services Department officials pointed out that storing combustible waste materials outside the plant without adequate protection was in violation of the Tamil Nadu fire service rule of 1990.
"It is a violation of section 250 of Tamil Nadu Fire Service Rules 1990 and we will issue a notice to the factory and will give them 15 days to store the waste materials inside a roofed structure with protective walls," said Subramanian.
Residents have been protesting against the cement factory for a long time and have submitted numerous petitions to the district administration. They claimed that the dust and smoke from the factory was causing major health complications, especially for senior citizens and children.
"We have raised the issue on numerous occasions and also submitted petitions to the district administration but till now no action has been taken," said C Palaniswamy, a resident of Kurumbapalayam.
There is a premeditated and orchestrated campaign by the cement industry to allow kilns to become garbage burners of all kinds of wastes. We've seen it manifest itself locally in Midlothian with the TXI permit that allows that plant to burn car parts and plastic wastes.
The more kilns that become gargabe burners, the more garbage of dubious content will pile up at kilns, the more often that garbage causes a fire. We've reported on three just since the summer alone. Being downind of an uncontrolled garbage fire isn't one of the talking points the industry boasts about when it's trying to sell kilns as the industrial equivalent of Kitchen disposals, but it's looking more like a standard feature rather than an option.