Published on 2015-04-12 @ 12:40:00 AM

Chunnakam Ground Water Contaminated

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Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, Rauff Hakeem said in Parliament yesterday that a report compiled by the Ministry had revealed that... ... ground water surrounding the Chunnakam power plant was contaminated with oil and was not suitable for drinking.


Chunnakam Ground Water Contaminated

By Gagani Weerakoon and Skandha Gunasekara

Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, Rauff Hakeem said in Parliament yesterday that a report compiled by the Ministry had revealed that... ... ground water surrounding the Chunnakam power plant was contaminated with oil and was not suitable for drinking.


Responding to a question raised by leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) under Standing Order 23/3, Minister Hakeem said the report compiled by the experts' committee appointed by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board had revealed that the ground water in the area surrounding the Chunnakam power plant was contaminated with oil and grease and therefore, was unsuitable for use or consumption.


MP Devananda pointed out that there was confusion among the people in the area regarding the issue as another report compiled by an experts' committee appointed by the Jaffna Municipal Council has said that there was no contamination.
In response Minister Hakeem said that the two reports were conducted separately and that the methods used were different from each other.


"I cannot comment on the contents of these two reports till they have been published. However, there were two separate methods used in analysing ground water in the Chunnakam area. The PS appointed expert committee used a process known as the btex method. Meanwhile, the experts' committee appointed by the Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage Board used the Hydrocarbon analysis method" the minister said.


He went on to say that a total of 150 wells were tested by the committee appointed by the Ministry. Of these, 109 wells (73%) showed higher levels of oil and grease than the standard amount while 7 wells (4%) had oil levels under the limit and 34 wells (23%) were not contaminated.
"The report states that an area up to 2km north of the Chunnakam power plant has been contaminated with oil and grease" Minister Hakeem noted.
However, Minister Hakeem said that the National Water Supply Board in concurrence with the Jaffna Municipal Council has ensured that the people in the area are receiving clean drinking water by supplying 225,000 litres of water transported in six bowsers daily.


The Minister added that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had held a meeting in Parliament in the day at which this crisis was discussed.
At the meeting with the Prime Minister it was proposed that the scope of the ADB funded desalination project in the region could be extended to include Chunnakam. This would greatly help to resolve the issue of the availability of clean drinking water in the region" Minister Hakeem said.


The Chunnakam power plant which was shut down indefinitely under a court order was reopened this week following new directives by court.

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