Punjab EPA says no to illegal operation of pyrolysis plants

These plants operate without any regulatory framework, leading to severe environmental degradation and health risks.

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The Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a firm stand against the illegal operation of pyrolysis plants in the province, citing concerns about environmental pollution and public health risks.

In a recent high-level meeting held at the EPA headquarters in Lahore, where representatives of pyrolysis plants were also present, the agency emphasized that no leniency will be shown towards these illegal businesses.

The illegal operation of pyrolysis plants has become a major challenge for authorities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab. Pyrolysis plants, which extract oil, carbon, and wires from used tires, have been operating without any regulatory framework in Punjab for over a decade, leading to severe environmental degradation and health risks.

Sources reveal that due to negligence on the part of authorities, over 40 pyrolysis plants have been established in Lahore alone, with the number exceeding 300 across the province.

Pyrolysis plants generate waste residues, such as carbon black and ash, which can contaminate soil and water. These residues often contain heavy metals and other toxic substances, which can leach into the soil and water bodies, posing a threat to plants, animals, and aquatic life. Soil and water pollution can have long-term negative effects on ecosystems, disrupting natural habitats and polluting water sources.

Moreover, these illegal pyrolysis plants do not have proper waste management practices in place, leading to uncontrolled dumping or burning of waste, further exacerbating the environmental impact.

The demand for pyro oil, used as a cheaper alternative to petroleum products, has increased due to rising petroleum prices in country. In this way, this industry is also causing adverse effect on national economy.

However, experts have raised concerns about the harmful effects of pyrolysis by-products on the environment and human health.

This is pertinent to mention here that most of the steel mills in province rely on the carbon produced by pyrolysis plants. Steel mills use this carbon while emitting toxic pollutants in the ambient air. Experts believe that the release of these pollutants can contribute to the formation of smog and worsen air quality, leading to respiratory issues and other health problems.

The EPA has recently drafted a policy to regulate the pyrolysis plant industry, prioritizing environmental protection and public health over any vested interests. However, sources revealed that EPA’s move of making a draft for this policy was to facilitate the people associated with this dirty business.

Talking to Minute Mirror, the EPA Director General Nadia Saquib stated that the agency will not tolerate any business causing pollution in the province. She maintained that strict action will be taken against any pyrolysis plant if found operating illegally.

Samiullah Randhawa is a correspondent covering environment, climate change, food, water and ecology. He is an International Center For Journalists alumnus and a fellow at Kettering Foundation Ohio, USA. He has won two Agahi Awards for reporting on climate change and water crisis. He tweets @sami_randhawa and can be reached at samiullahfarid@gmail.com.