Heavy Metals in Coca-Cola Plant Effluent
The Indian Express
March 23, 2012

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) expressed concern over presence of heavy metals like lead and cadmium in discharged effluent samples at a Coca-Cola plant in West Bengal and directed that necessary steps be taken to ensure they are not present in the beverage.

The Tribunal gave the direction to the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) and the Cola major after saying it is quite possible that heavy metals "may also be present" in the products from the plant at Jalpaiguri.

It has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to collect and analyse samples of discharged effluents from the plant, saying the renewal of consent to operate the plant would depend on its report.

The NGT, however, allowed Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd's plea and quashed West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) order dated May 2, 2011, which directed the soft drink manufacturer to deposit Rs five lakhs towards "pollution cost" along with a bank guarantee of a like amount as an assurance of complying with environmental standards.

"Before parting we feel it proper to express our concern with regard to presence of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in discharged effluent. Presence of said substances in the effluent would finally contaminate the environment, and shall cause hazards to human life.

"It appears, no steps, howsoever has been taken by the WBPCB or by the Appellant to trace out the source of such heavy metals found in the effluent. It is quite possible that heavy metals/ lead and cadmium etc. may also be present in the products.

"We, therefore, direct the WBPCB as well as the appellant (Coca-Cola) to conduct analysis of the water and raw materials used for the purpose, and not only detect the source but also take appropriate steps for eradicating the same so as to avoid any adverse health impacts," a bench of NGT headed by Acting Chairperson Justice A S Naidu said.

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