Coca Cola agrees to pay all damage costs in oil leak – CEA Chairman Professor Lal Dharmasiri

Published : 9:58 am  September 1, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (3389) reads | 

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mat5By Rumana Razick
The release of the results of the contaminated water samples taken from the Kelani River following the oil leak has been postponed to September 11 since more time was requested by the analysts, Water Board Deputy General Manager Ranjith Perera said.

According to the Federation of Environmental Organisations, approximately 400,000 citizens were affected due to the oil contamination of the Kelani on election day. The organisation further stated that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) must ensure that all industries located along the Kelani River were implementing the conditions under the Environmental Protection Licence (EPL) adequately.

It was also found that the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) had sent a letter to the Coca Cola Company claiming rupees Rs 177,000 as travel costs and use of oil absorbents to clear up the water. A further 1.45 million was claimed by the Shanika Marine Company that was hired by the MEPA for cleaning the river with the use of oil absorbents and physical barriers.
Asanka Wijewarnasooriya, MEPA Western Province said that the amounts were paid in full by the company. “We have also requested the CEA to have these physical barriers at other parts of the river as a safety precaution,” he said.
Meanwhile estimates are being prepared by the CEA for the damages caused to water quality, the environment and equipment at the Ambathale water treatment plant.


According to the Federation of Environmental Organisations, approximately 400,000 citizens were affected due to the oil contamination of the Kelani on election day.


“Almost all sand filters and nozzles were blocked and needed to be replaced. We handed the list of damages caused due by the oil leak. We have included all costs incurred by social damages, loss of revenue, labour costs and material costs,” Perera said. Speaking of the resurfacing of oil droplets he said that it was due to heavy rain washing down oil deposits into the river..mat4

“At 9.30 am on Friday (August 28) we noticed the patch of oil. Immediately we shut down the plant ensuring that no water was pumped in. Consequently the water supply was disrupted for four hours till the oil droplets were flushed out of the river,” he said.

Speaking to Daily Mirror CEA Chairman Professor Lal Dharmasiri said that the EPL will not be given to the Coca Cola Company till the water board submits its ‘No Objection’ letter.
He said that the company has agreed to pay all damage costs and prepare a contingency plan for the future.

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Environmentalist Centre for Environmental Justice - Hemantha Vithanage

It was a question as to how oil droplets resurfaced. Two days after the leak we were informed that all oil traces of oil had been cleared. However two weeks later when the droplets resurfaced officials claimed that oil droplets deposited on the river banks were washed into the river following a heavy downpour. Doesn’t this suggest that they were not thorough in their cleaning? If Coca Cola was responsible shouldn’t they be fined twice? Also to my knowledge none of the authorities have done an assessment on the damage caused to the biodiversity despite many requests by environmentalists.