New Delhi: A German firm selected to remove toxic waste from the Bhopal gas leak site has said it would require over 4,000 special containers approved by the United Nations as well as trained experts for the job.
Besides this, it would identify and train workers for packing of 346 metric tonnes of toxic waste removal which can be done during winters only.
"We need about 4,000-4,500 UN approved containers of 120 liters each. These containers would be purchased. All waste product will be carefully packed and sealed before shifting them to Germany," GIZ International Services` Regional Director for South Asia Hans-H Dube told a news agency.
He said at least 30 workers would be needed for the highly specialised job.
"First we need to identify workers, train and provide them with full protection (masks, special clothes and other relevant gears). We can only do it (packaging) during winters as there will be low temperature and that too during the night.
"All these workers would be working in shifts of not more than two hours due to the heavy load of safety gear they will be putting on while working," Dube said.
A Group of Ministers (GoM) has yesterday approved disposal of about 346 MT of toxic waste, lying within the premises of the erstwhile M/s Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) at Bhopal, in Germany via GIZ IS.
"The United Nations has set certain standards for the containers to be used for these sort of jobs. There are five countries namely the US, UK, Japan, France and Germany," Dube said.
He said once at least 90 MT of waste is packed then a transporter aircraft would be called to air-lift it adding that the exact place of its treatment would be known later.
"A decision has not yet been made about where to dispose of the hazardous waste. The chosen location must allow for the waste to be disposed of safely, without compromise, and must not endanger the environment or people`s health. Facilities in Germany, for example, fulfil these conditions," Dube said.
The worst-ever industrial disaster had taken place at the Union Carbide plant on the intervening night of December 2-3 in 1984.
According to government data, a total compensation of over Rs 3,000 crore has been given in 5,295 cases of death, 4,902 cases of permanent disability, 5,27,894 cases of minor injury and 35,455 cases related to temporary disability among others.
GIZ IS was approached in June 2011 by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment and Forest for the environmentally safe disposal of the waste at Union Carbide site in Bhopal. Later Madhya Pradesh Government approached GIZ IS for the technical support in environmentally safe disposal of this waste.
"Based on the UN`s comprehensive regulations for the safe and responsible disposal of contaminated waste, a timeframe of one year is planned for the project. Once the contaminated soil has been adequately protected, transportation could commence at the start of 2013 at the earliest," he said.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has already given its approval for GIZ, a federal enterprise, to take on the project which is valued at about EURO 3.5 million (about Rs 25 crore), Dube said.
"The soil in question has seen a build-up of contaminants such as agricultural insecticides. The Indian Government is confident that GIZ will safely dispose of the contaminated soil with the residual waste, which has not been adequately protected and has been in there for almost 28 years," he said.
Dube said Indian incineration plants lacks the capacities to dispose of the contaminated soil properly in environmentally safe manner.
"GIZ`s offer to dispose of the contaminated soil is in keeping with the Basel Convention controlling trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, which is designed to prevent these wastes from being transferred from developed to less developed countries.
"The convention calls for toxic waste to be shipped to another country in cases where the technology to dispose of it properly is lacking at the local level," he said.
Over the past 20 years, the German federal enterprise has taken on in the region of twenty-five similar commissions in developing and transition countries, he said.