Published on 2015-04-03 @ 12:21:00 PM

Quarter million affected by Vallikamam water pollution

Disna Mudalige

The authorities should take immediate steps to reverse the process of water pollution caused by oil waste in Vallikamam in the North, Jaffna University Medical Faculty Prof. Daya Somasundaram said.

Issuing a press communique, he stated more than a quarter million people living in Vallikamam have been affected by ground water pollution caused by oil waste.

He observed this ecological disaster of serious proportions had been taking shape over the last few years.

"The Water Resources Board Report has identified the Chunnakam Fossil Fuel Power Station area as the possible source of contamination.

From a detailed analysis and mapping of their data, the 'oil spreading pattern' showed that there were 'high oil and grease concentration layers' surrounding the Chunnakam Power Station with gradients of diminishing concentration outwards from the power station.

By 2015, the contamination appears to have spread further," Prof. Somasundaram said.

"According to samples of well water from a 1.5 km diametre area surrounding the Chunnakam power station taken during 2013 - 2014, the great majority of wells (73 percent) were contaminated with oil levels above the acceptable level (1 mg of oil/ L of water). Since then, from observations reported by residents, the oil contamination appears

to have spread to contaminate wells to an area of over 4km in diameter," he commented.

Prof. Somasundaram commended the move to provide regular clean water to some of the seriously affected areas through bowsers, adding that this move has to be expanded to all affected areas.

"More important and urgent are preliminary steps towards short and long term strategies to prevent further spread, remedies and a recovery process initiated to return the water to its original state," he stressed. Prof. Somasundaram said an expert committee of the various national universities has been formed to investigate and report on the issue.

"As in Weliweriya in the Gampaha district of the South, the people from the Valikamam area have started to protest the pollution of their water, demanding urgent action by peaceful means.

It is the responsibility of the authorities to take the necessary steps and action and find immediate and long term solutions to the problems threatening the people of the area," he said.

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