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Pollution Board asks banks to forfeit guarantees of nine oil units

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 5. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has directed banks to forfeit guarantees of nine used oil re-refining units for failing to meet the December 31, 2004 deadline for shifting to cleaner technologies.

As many as 27 such registered units had sought time to switch over to cleaner technologies by submitting a bank guarantee of Rs. 5 lakhs each to the CPCB and agreeing to stop all used oil procurement and re-refining activities till January 1, 2005.

The status of all the 27 units was assessed by the CPCB in January and it was found that nine had failed to comply with the new norms.

The Board ordered that the bank guarantees of these units be forfeited while the remaining have been asked to obtain registration from the CPCB as per the laid down procedure for starting their used oil procurement and re-refining activities. Used oil is classified as a hazardous waste as per the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules. Since this waste is a valuable resource and it is essential not only to maximise its re-refining and re-use but also to ensure minimum adverse effect on the environment in the process.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests amended the Hazardous Waste Rules in 2000 making it mandatory for all the industries involved in the re-refining of used oil to obtain a registration from the Ministry.

The technologies then involved in the re-refining of used oil were mainly the acid clay or the modified clay process.

Rules amended

The problems of disposing of the large quantities of acidic sludge and the spent clay, however, continued to remain due to non-availability of common facilities of disposal of hazardous wastes in most States. The rules were, therefore, amended through a notification issued on May 20, 2003 requiring all the used oil re-refining units to switch over (within six months) to vacuum distillation with clay treatment, vacuum distillation with hydro treating, thin film evaporation process or any other technology approved by the Ministry.

The changes led to reduction in the number of registered units from over 100 to three as most of the units could not switch over to the specified technologies within the stipulated time.

The situation was reviewed and the units given time till December 31, 2004 on the condition that the units place the orders for new machinery and also submit bank guarantees.

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