Congratulations, it is an eye opener to other states that are thinking of such schemes.
In Hyderabad, the government...
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Even the highest-scoring steel companies are far behind the global best
Average. That’s how India’s three best iron and steel plants have performed. With just Three Leaves in their kitty, Ispat Industries, Essar Steel and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) have a long way to go to be certified truly green companies.
ISPAT INDUSTRIES, DOLVI
The 3.6-million-tonne per annum (MTPA) integrated plant spreads across 490 hectares (ha) near Dolvi village in Maharashtra’s Raigad district. It uses two processes to produce iron—natural gas-based plant of 1.6 MTPA capacity to produce sponge iron, and blast furnace of 2 MTPA capacity to make hot metal. Both sponge iron and hot metal are fed into an electric arc furnace to make steel.
During its survey, GRP found the company to be most transparent. Its gas module is one of the largest and most efficient in the country. The blast furnace has advanced technologies like pulverised coal injection and top pressure recovery turbine. It is also India’s only plant that uses energy-efficient thin slab casting technology.
The plant consumes 5.4 Giga calories (GCal) of energy per tonne of crude steel (tcs). This is the lowest in India but about 20 per cent more than the global best. Its blast furnace consumes the lowest in India—395 kg of coke per tonne of hot metal (tHM). The global best practice is 250 kg/tHM. Thermal energy consumption in the gas sponge iron plant is 2.6 GCal/tonne sponge iron against the global best of 2.25 GCal/tonne. Carbon emissions from Ispat Industries during the production process are 2 tonne CO2 per tonne of crude steel (tcs). This is about 40 per cent higher than the global best practice.
One of the most land-efficient plants, Ispat Industries occupies about 140 ha per million tonnes of steel capacity. It annually draws 7.4 million m3 of fresh water from Nagothane dam on the Amba river, about 20 km from the plant. It consumes 2.1 m3/tcs water in its production process, the lowest in the country. It discharges very little wastewater. But the little that it does flows into Dharamtar creek. This is poorly monitored.
The plant disposes of about 0.23 tonnes of solid waste per tonne of crude steel. This is one of the lowest in India but almost double the global best practice. The blast furnace slag is sold to Indorama Cement. The plant’s steel melting slag is given to an external agency to recover metal. Waste from other areas is used in the sinter plant. However, the company was not able to clarify how it disposed of nickel catalyst, a hazardous waste, from the sponge iron plant.
The problem with the plant is poor management and handling of gas cleaning plant sludge. It is struggling to meet ambient air quality norms in many areas. Fugitive emissions were found high from solid waste dumping areas, product separation areas and from raw material storage and handling. Air pollution from its steel melting shop (SMS) was found too high. Monitoring of ambient air quality and stack emissions was also inadequate.
On the health and safety management front, the plant has a poor track record. As many as nine fatalities were reported during the three years that GRP assessed. Of the entire plant, only its gas sponge iron operation is certified ISO 14001. The environment department was found lacking in initiatives and the green belt development around the plant was poor.
While Ispat Industries provides employment and drinking water to 44 villages, the plant’s transport activity has irked many. Transportation of material through ships affects fishing. In fact, the company had to pay compensation to fishers for damaging fishing nets and boats.
ESSAR STEEL, HAZIRA
Spread across 300 ha in Hazira, in Gujarat’s Surat district, the plant has a production capacity of 4.6 MTPA of crude steel. It is expanding to produce 10 MTPA. But the expansion will be through coal-based steel-making processes like Corex and blast furnace because gas is not available cheap. This means the plant’s overall environmental performance will deteriorate in future.
Essar Steel is India’s only fully operating gas-based integrated steel plant. The plant produces sponge iron through a gas-based process. It has five sponge iron modules with a cumulative capacity of 5 MTPA. Its four electric arc furnaces have a cumulative steel capacity of 4.6 MTPA. At Visakhapatnam, it has a pellet plant of 8 MTPA capacity, which makes pellets from iron ore. These are transported by ships to Hazira where they are used for making sponge iron. One of the plant’s five sponge iron-making units, of 1.6 MTPA capacity, is among the largest in the country.
Essar Steel has installed some advanced technologies to become energy-efficient. It puts hot sponge iron directly into the electric arc furnace, reducing energy consumption by 20 per cent. Eighty per cent of the material that it uses to make sponge iron is pellet. This further reduces energy consumption. Presently, the plant is installing a system to collect exhaust gases from its four older sponge iron modules to generate 19 MW power. This will control air pollution and assist in energy efficiency.
Essar Steel consumes 5.5 Gcal/tcs energy, the second lowest in the country after Ispat Industries. Its specific thermal energy consumption in sponge iron plant is 2.6 GCal per tonne of sponge iron against the global best practice of 2.25 GCal per tonne.
Since it is a natural gas-based plant, the plant’s specific carbon dioxide intensity is the lowest, at 1.4 tonne CO2 (tCO2)/tcs. This is equal to the global best practice. Essar Steel is the country’s most land-efficient plant. It occupies about 65 ha per million tonnes of steel capacity. However, it is inefficient in water management. The plant annually draws about 16 million m3 of fresh water from the Tapi river. This will increase considerably when the plant starts its 5-MTPA, coal-based iron-making plant. Its current water consumption is 2.7 m3/tcs, more than double the global best practice. The plant discharges a low 3,000 m3 per day wastewater into the Tapi river estuary. Ideally, it should recycle and reuse all its wastewater. It disposes of about 0.27 tonne of solid waste per tonne of crude steel. This is mostly the steel-making slag. The company uses some of it to fill low-lying areas and sends the remaining slag to its Visakhapatnam pellet plant for reuse. It recently started using slag in tile-making and construction work.
The plant’s emissions through chimneys were within the norms. Its air pollution monitoring was also satisfactory. But two major pollution issues are high fugitive dust in raw material handling and storage areas, and high fugitive emissions in steel melting shop.
Another area of concern is occupational health and safety. Despite an OHSAS 18001 certification, its safety record is below par. Between 2007 and 2010, seven workers died in accidents inside the plant.
Its environment management system is in place and has an ISO 14001 certification, but the plant’s green belt development is inadequate. The pollution control board is perturbed because the plant was undertaking expansion plans without the requisite Coastal Regulation Zone clearance. Overall, the plant received an average rating for transparency under GRP.
Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) is spread over 8,888 ha in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. Its installed capacity is 3 MTPA of crude steel. It uses the blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF) route. It has four by-product coke oven batteries of 2.7 MTPA coke production capacity, two sinter machines of total 5.25 MTPA capacity, two blast furnaces of total 3.2 MTPA hot metal production capacity and three basic oxygen furnace of total 3.0 MTPA steel capacity.
The plant has installed coke dry quenching which reduces pollution from coke ovens and minimises water consumption. Its blast furnaces are equipped with top pressure recovery turbines which use waste energy from blast furnace to produce electricity. It recycles sewage from the township to use it for cooling purposes in the plant.
RINL’s energy consumption and carbon emissions are comparable to the sector’s average. Its per unit energy consumption is 6.6 GCal/tcs against the global best of 4.5GCal/tcs for coal-based plants. Its carbon emissions are 2.9 tCO2/tcs, almost double the global best.
The plant withdraws freshwater from Yeleshwaram reservoir, which is connected to the Yeleru tributary of the Godavari. Its per unit water consumption at 3.5 m3/tcs is among the lowest in the country for a BF-BOF plant. However, RINL is in the process of increasing its capacity to 11 MTPA. This will increase the amount of water it draws, increasing the stress on Visakhapatnam city.
The plant’s wastewater is discharged into the sea through Gangavram and Appikonda outlets. This is a major problem because effluents from the outlets do not comply with the standards. Significantly, the plant recycles most of the solid waste it generates. It disposes of 0.24 tonnes/tcs, one of the lowest for a BF-BOF plant. The hazardous waste management is also good as all the waste is recycled in the coke oven.
RINL is one of the few plants that more or less meets ambient air quality norms. But its emissions from processes like sinter plant, blast furnace and SMS are high. The plant has the highest coke oven gas collection rate among Indian plants. This indicates less leakage of toxic gases from coke oven. But again, two of the four coke oven batteries do not comply with leakage emissions norms. But the air quality monitoring is largely satisfactory.
Like most other plants, RINL’S performance on health and safety is poor despite an OSHAS 18001 certification. It does not undertake special health tests for coke oven battery workers. Between 2007 and 2010, 10 workers died in accidents. The plant is certified ISO 14001 and has a full-fledged environment department. It has good green belt development.
People of Appikonda village complain of water pollution from metallurgical wastewater discharge. However, they did not have a problem with solid waste disposal. While the plant has provided people with employment and medical facilities, there are serious issues concerning resettlement and rehabilitation of people evicted from the land acquired for the plant.
|SAIL plants disappoint
Steel-making giant Steel Authority of India (SAIL), with its five integrated units in Bhilai, Bokaro, Durgapur, Burnpur and Rourkela, performed poorly in GRP.
SAIL has more than 35,000 ha under its possession and employs 0.1 million people. It produces nearly one-fifth of the steel the country produces. Being a public sector enterprise, SAIL was expected to proactively take part in GRP. But it did not. Persuasions from the ministry of steel and repeated attempts by GRP failed to convince the company to take part in the project. Later, SAIL Rourkela came forward to participate, but not the others.
To collect information on non-participating plants, GRP filed Right To Information applications. IISCO Burnpur and SAIL Bhilai replied with minimum information.
SAIL Durgapur and SAIL Bokaro did not provide even that. GRP surveyors had to collect information from secondary sources.
All the SAIL units use blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF) route for steel making. Their overall environmental performance was found to be poor.
Their specific primary energy consumption was 6.5-8.2 Giga calories per tonne crude steel (GCal/tcs) against the global best of 4.5 GCal/tcs. The most energy-efficient SAIL plants—in Durgapur and Bhilai—consumed about 45 per cent higher primary energy than the global best practices. The worst—IISCO, Burnpur—consumed 80 per cent higher.
Similarly, the specific carbon emissions of SAIL plants were 2.9-4.2 tonne carbon per tonne crude steel (tCO2/tcs). For BF-BOF process, the global best practice is 1.7 tCO2/tcs.
SAIL plants were also highly water inefficient. In fact, they were the worst performing plants on water use and efficiency parameters. Their specific water consumption rate is 16-32 m3/tcs. This includes water used for process, captive power plants and township. These plants put very high stress on the rivers by first drawing huge quantities of water and then discharging wastewater into them.
Though SAIL Rourkela did not perform well, it received 1 Leaf Award. The fact that it voluntarily participated indicates its willingness to improve.