Coal at Trinco harbor poses health risk, Environmentalists warn

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 March 2005, 03:50 GMT]
Unloaded coal piled up near the Ashraff Jetty of the Trincomalee harbour, before transported for use at Puttalam cement factory is endangering the health of the people of the area, Trincomalee civil leaders complained. The coal is then moved to a private land at Tampalakamam located 22 km off the east port town and then transported to Puttalam cement factory about 200 km off Trincomalee, in the northwestern province, sources said.


Health risk at Trinco
Unloaded coal is piled up close to Ashraff Jetty to be transported by lorry via Thampalakamam to Puttalam

Environmental authorities say that the transportation of coal by lorries from the Ashraff Jetty to the inland pollutes the air causing health hazard to the people residing along the route.

Health risk at Trinco
Health Minister Mr.Nimal Sripala de Silva with Ministyer Mr.Maithiripala Sirisena and health ministry officials arriving at the Ashraff Jetty Saturday
A senior medical officer told Tamilnet that Pneumoconiosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling coal dust when transporting or by blowing, which would lead to tuberculosis or cancer. Unfortunately, there is no cure for damage to the lungs, he added.

He pointed out that two years earlier the Sri Lanka government had dropped the project of establishing a coal power plant funded by a foreign government in a site close to Trincomalee harbour following severe protests by civil leaders of east port town citing health hazard.

However, provincial and central health authorities, or Central Environmental Authority so far have failed to take prompt steps to stop unloading coal, civil society activities in Trincomalee complained.

Health risk at Trinco
Greek floating hospital "Ocean Monarch" and coal vessel " Excellent" are seen anchored at the Ashraff Jetty
Mr.Nimal Sripala de Silva, Minister of Health last Saturday visited the Ashraff Jetty to participate in a farewell event to the Greek floating hospital which served in Trincomalee for about forty five days.

Health ministry vehicles which brought him with another minister Mr. Maithiripala Sirisena and a team of health ministry officials at central and provincial level dropped them near the vessel "Excellent" from which coal is being unloaded since it arrival in the Ashraff Jetty. Ironically the coal vessel is also anchored close by with the Greek floating hospital, Ocean Monarch, at the Ashraff Jetty.

The unloading of coal was stopped on Saturday due to the visit of the Health Minister to the jetty.

Minister of Health Minister assured the press that he will look into the matter.

 

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