Contaminated water

Published: Sunday 15 August 1993

Municipal authorities in Thrissur, Kerala, have been accused of dilly-dallying though a deadly chemical has reportedly flowed into the town's drinking water reservoir, resulting in at least 30 persons being hospitalised for dizziness, headache and stomach disorders.

The reservoir became contaminated when a tanker carrying 12,000 litres of concentrated phenyl from the Indian Organic Chemicals Factory in Kochi to Raipur in Madhya Pradesh, is said to have turned turtle near Kombazhi village on June 24. The phenyl spilled into a canal that drained into the Peechi reservoir, which supplies drinking water to five lakh people in Thrissur and its surrounding panchayats. Fish in the canal began to die almost immediately and soon people reportedly started falling ill.

Although supply of water from the reservoir was suspended immediately, it took more than three days for local authorities to tackle the problem. The clean-up operation was finally initiated by K P Kumaran, head of the Kochi cell of the National Environment Engineering Institute. Bags filled with activated carbon were submerged in the canal and the reservoir to absorb the spilled phenyl and a temporary check-dam was constructed to prevent further contamination of the reservoir water.

Town authorities say the water will be test-pumped before it is introduced into the distribution system, which offers little consolation to Thrissur residents, already coping with acute water shortage.

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