New Report Confirms Water Pollution By Coca-Cola in India
Coke's Losses Continue in India, Dropped by Major Investor
For Immediate Release
July 20, 2006
San Francisco (July 20, 2006): The Coca-Cola company has severely
polluted the groundwater around its bottling plant in Plachimada,
South India, according to a new report released in New Delhi yesterday.
The Hazards Centre and the People's Science Institute tested nine
water samples within a one kilometer radius of the Coca-Cola bottling
plant in the south Indian state of Kerala and concluded that "the
total natural water resources surrounding the Coca-Cola plant in Plachimada
All the water samples, collected from open wells, hand pumps and borewells
in the area, failed to meet the safety standards for drinking water
prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) - ensuring that
the groundwater was no longer suitable for human consumption.
All the samples showed excessive levels of chromium, eight samples
showed excessive levels of cadmium and six samples showed excessive
levels of lead. The water samples were collected in November 2005.
In addition to the risks posed to the community by the presence of
heavy metals in the water, the report also cautioned that cadmium and lead
can enter the body easily through the food chain.
The report also noted that the community did not experience water
quality problems prior to the establishment of the Coca-Cola bottling
plant, and that the deep aquifer systems have now been contaminated. The report also notes that agricultural production has been negatively affected in the area.
The report is the latest in a series of studies that have confirmed
pollution by the Coca-Cola company. The Kerala State Pollution Control
Board (KSPCB) had also found high levels of lead and cadmium in the
sludge from Coca-Cola's plant, and ordered the plant to "stop production
of all kinds of products with immediate effect" on August 19, 2005.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada has remained shut down
since March 2004, and the Coca-Cola company has challenged the closure
in the courts. In spite of the growing body of evidence, the Coca-Cola
company continues to maintain that there is no pollution by their
The Coca-Cola company was also distributing its sludge to farmers
in the area as fertilizer. Tests conducted in 2003 by the Central
Pollution Control Board of India, as well as the British Broadcasting
Corporation, confirmed that the sludge contained high levels of cadmium
and lead, effectively making it toxic waste. Coca-Cola was forced
to stop the distribution of the sludge by government authorities,
and ordered to treat the waste as hazardous waste.
"The state must permanently shut down the Coca-Cola plant in Plachimada.
The company has destroyed the natural resources in the area through
negligence, and we will continue to demand that Coca-Cola be held
responsible for the damages, including criminal and financial liability," said R. Ajayan of the Plachimada Solidarity
Committee, an alliance of groups in the state of Kerala working actively
to challenge the Coca-Cola company.
The Coca-Cola company has been the target of community campaigns across
India accusing the company of creating severe water shortages
and pollution around its bottling plants.
In related developments, the Coca-Cola company announced on Tuesday
that its sales in India had dropped another 12% in the last quarter,
adding to Coca-Cola's worries in India which it has identified as
a key emerging market. Coca-Cola's sales in India have declined for
eight consecutive quarters.
Also on Tuesday, the Coca-Cola company was ejected from the prestigious
$8 billion TIAA-CREF Social Choice Account fund. The consultants to
TIAA-CREF, KLD Research & Analytics, recommended the move because
of the company's questionable environmental practices in India, labor
problems in Colombia, and the continued marketing of soft drinks to
children. TIAA-CREF is one of the largest financial services companies
in the United States, with over $380 billion in assets.
The campaigns in India are also receiving tremendous support internationally,
particularly with colleges and universities in the United States and
United Kingdom campaigning to revoke Coca-Cola's contracts until they
meet the demands of the communities.
"It is only a matter of time before Coca-Cola is forced to acknowledge
and act on its mistakes in India," said Amit Srivastava of the India
Resource Center, an international campaigning organization that works
closely with Indian communities to apply pressure on Coca-Cola internationally.
"We ask people to think before they drink, and given the facts, we
are confident that people will refuse to drink Coca-Cola until it
cleans up its act."
The report, "Ground Water Resources in Plachimada" detailing water
pollution by the Hazards Centre and People's Science Institute can
be found at www.IndiaResource.org/documents/PlachimadaReportWaterPollution.pdf
For information on the campaigns against Coca-Cola in India, visit
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