1. Definitions

  • Waste is something which the owner no longer wants at a given place and time and has no current or perceived market value.
  • Hazardous waste is waste that has physical, chemical or biological characteristics which require special handling and disposal procedure to avoid risk to health and /or adverse environmental effects.
  • Hazard is a possibility of a toxic effect being manifested upon exposure.
  • Risk is a probability of hazard occurring.
  • Toxicity is an adverse effect upon a living species by a constituent administered at a toxic concentration in a biologically available form by a particular route and during a fixed exposure time. A chemical is said to be highly toxic when on laboratory test animals it is found that medium lethal dose LD 50 by the oral route is 51 to 500 mg/l of body weight. If the dose of les than 50 mg/l bodyweight is lethal, the chemical is extremely toxic.
  • A waste is said to be flammable if the boiling point of gas at normal pressure is 20 degree or below, a liquid has a flash point lower than 65 degree, a solid ca spontaneously combust through friction, absorption or loss of moisture.
  • A waste is said to be corrosive if, it is aqueous and has a pH of 2 or less or has 12.5 or more pH or it is liquid and corrodes steel at a rate 6.35 mm or more per year.
  • A waste is called oxidizer if a substance that yields oxygen readily when involved in fire, there by intensifying the combustion of organic materials.
  • Short term acute hazards are acute toxicity by ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption, corrosivity or eye contact hazards or risk of fire or explosion
  • Long-term environmental hazards include chronic toxicity upon repeated exposure, carcinogenicity, resistance to biodegradation, potential to pollute water sources, or aesthetically objectionable.
  • Hazardous waste belongs to a category of special wastes containing certain chemicals, metals, and pathogenic organisms which can cause damage to the environment even at low concentration.
  • As per the Hazardous Waste (Management & Handling) Rules of 1989, means categories of wastes specified in the schedule or any waste which by reason of its chemical or physical properties or handling is liable to cause harm to human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism, property or the environment.
  • Hazardous waste is that which is scheduled and is in a certain stipulated yearly quantity.
  • A solid waste not falling in the description and quantity stipulated in the schedule of H W (M & H) Rules 1989 is not a hazardous waste.
  • A hazardous waste may be a solid, liquid, slurry, or even gaseous form.
  • Hazardous waste site is merely a place approved for handling and managing the waste. (i. e. collection, reception, treatment, storage and disposal), while facility is a location where various processes and activities are going on for handling and managing the waste. the site may become a facility in course of time.

2. Rules regarding management of hazardous wastes.
The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 were introduced under Sections 6, 8, and 25 of the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 (referred to as HWM Rules 1989). The HWM Rules, 1989 provide for the control of generation, collection, treatment, transport, import, storage and disposal of wastes listed in the schedule annexed to these rules. The rules are implemented through the SPCBs and pollution control committees in the states and union territories. India is also a signatory to the Basel Convention, 1989 on the Control of Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. There were a few inherent limitations to the implementation of the HWM Rules, 1989, and amendments to this Rule were introduced in 2000 and 2002, widening the definition of hazardous waste and harmonizing the hazardous waste list with that of the Basel Convention.

Besides these rules, in 1991, the MoEF issued Guidelines for Management and Handling of Hazardous Wastes for (a) generators of waste, (b) transport of hazardous waste, and (c) owners/operators of hazardous waste storage, treatment and disposal facilities. These guidelines also established mechanisms for the development of a reporting system for the movement of hazardous waste (the manifest system) and for the first time, established procedures for closure and post-closure requirements for landfills. In 1995, these were followed by the publication of Guidelines for Safe Road Transport of Hazardous Chemicals that established basic rules for Hazardous Goods Transport and provided for the establishment of a Transport Emergency Plan and for provisions on Identification and Assessment of Hazards.

In addition to these direct rules dealing with issues of hazardous waste management, the Government has moved to enact legislation and additional incentives for industries to comply with environmental provisions and bring out market forces into the business of environment. In this vein, the Public Liability Act 1991 was adopted to require industries dealing with hazards to ensure against accidents or damages caused by release of pollutants. The National Environmental Tribunal Act, 1995, provides for expeditious remedies to parties injured by environmental crimes. Legislation on the Community's Right to Know, 1996, has been adopted to provide more access to information regarding potential hazards from industrial operations.

  • The rules provide for a control on the generation collection, treatment, import, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes.
  • The rules are applicable to wastes defined as hazardous wastes. [ 18 categories }
  • State pollution control boards are the implementing authority.
  • Wastes are not permitted to be imported for dumping and disposal.
  • Imports of wastes are allowed for processing and reuse as raw material.

3. Categories of hazardous wastes
The wastes enlisted in schedule are only termed as hazardous and that too if it is in quantity more than stipulated there in (regulatory quantities). the wastes are divided in 18 categories, but can be regrouped for convenience of learning as,

  • Waste bearing certain heavy metals or chemicals of heavy metals or waste from metal finishing.
  • Hydrocarbon solvents both halogenated or otherwise
  • waste from certain industries ( paints, pigments, Dyes, pesticides, phenol and asbestos)
  • Oily and tarry wastes
  • Sludge, slurries, discarded products
  • Discarded containers
  • Cyanide wastes.

The permissible quantity bar is so low that almost every activity producing such wastes will be covered. At least two categories are covered fully irrespective of any quantity and they are e and f of schedule. The hazardous categorized waste lower in quantity than shown in schedule is not hazardous by virtue of definition. Waste water, exhaust gases, ships beyond 5 km in sea and radioactive wastes are exempted as they are covered under other rules and regulations..

4. Grant of authorization
Authorisation" means permission for collection, reception, treatment, transport, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes, granted by the competent authority in Form 2; in rule 5, now SPCB is expected to process authorization application for disposal of hazardous waste within 90 days. Also, the fee of Rs. 7,500/- has been stipulated and the authorization period has been extended from two years to five years.

5. Import, Export, and Trans-boundary Transport of HW
Recovery of useful materials from hazardous waste is undoubtedly desirable for environmentally and economic reasons. Over the years, recycling or recovery from wastes has indeed become a thriving business all over the world particularly in the developing countries. While the industries in developed countries have adopted state of the art technologies with environmental safeguards, the entrepreneurs in developing countries, particularly those in the small scale sector, continues to operate with the crude technologies with scant regards for environmental safety. In some developed countries, with the increasing environmental consciousness and stringent regulations, recycling and disposal of wastes demand a sizable expenditure. Under such a situation, the industries prefer to export their wastes to other countries. This lead to increased trade in trans-boundary transfer of wastes particularly to the developing countries. The Basel convention is in response to the growing concern for regulating trans- boundary transfer of hazardous waste and for promoting environmentally sound management practices.

Rule 11 of the HWM&H Rules, 1989 has been amended and now to categorically states that "Import of hazardous waste from any country to India and export of hazardous waste from India to any country for dumping or disposal shall not be permitted".

Rules 12, 13, and 14 are the new addition in the amendment which are included to streamline and systematize import of waste substances for the purpose of recycle and reuse. These rules also mention the responsibilities of the importer of wastes as well as the responsibility of exporting party/country.

Further, rule 15 has been added in the amendment to address the requirement under the Basel convention regarding illegal trans-boundary transport of hazardous waste.

6. The Basel Convention
The Basel convention is the broadest and most significant international treaty on trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes. Effective regulation of the management and disposal of hazardous wastes require cooperation at the global level. The Basel convention is the first and foremost global legal instrument regulating the trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal.

The Basel convention adopted by the diplomatic conference in Basel in 1989 was developed under the auspices of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and entered in to force in May 1992. The following are the key objectives of Basel convention.

  • To reduce trans- boundary movement of hazardous wastes and other wastes subject to the Basel Convention to the minimum, consistent with their environmentally sound management.
  • To dispose of the hazardous wastes and other wastes generated, as close as possible to their source of generation.
  • To minimize the generation of hazardous wastes in terms of quantity and hazard potential.
  • To ensure strict control over movements of hazardous waste across borders and prevention of illegal traffic.
  • To prohibit shipment of hazardous wastes to countries lacking the legal, administrative and technical capacity to manage and dispose of them in an environmentally- sound manner
  • To assist developing countries in transition in environmentally- sound management of the hazardous wastes they generate.

7. Hazardous waste generating Industries
Sources of hazardous waste include those from industrial processes, mining extraction; tailings from pesticide based agricultural practices, etc. Industries that are major producers of hazardous waste include petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, paints and dyes, petroleum, fertilizers, asbestos, caustic soda, inorganic chemicals and general engineering. The main source of hazardous waste generation and impact on the environment is the chemical industry. Units manufacturing pesticides, drugs, pharmaceuticals, textiles, dyes, fertilizers, paint, chlor-alkali, etc. have a major potential for generating hazardous waste such as heavy metals, cyanides, pesticides, complex aromatic compounds (such as PCBs), and other chemicals, which are toxic, flammable, reactive, corrosive or have explosive properties.

8. Impacts of hazardous wastes
As per the Waste Management Rules, 1989, and the MoEF's Guidelines (1991), hazardous waste generated by industries has to be disposed of in secured landfills and the toxic organic fraction of the waste needs to be incinerated.

Improper storage, handling, transportation, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste results in adverse impacts on ecosystems and the human environment. Heavy metals and certain organic compounds are phytotoxic and at relatively low levels can adversely affect soil productivity for extended periods. For example, uncontrolled release of chromium contaminated waste water and sludge resultes in the contamination of aquifers. These aquifers can no longer be used as sources of freshwater. Discharge of acidic and alkaline waste affects the natural buffering capacity of surface waters and soils and may result in reduction of a number of species. It is said that one gallon of used oil can contaminate one million gallons of water rendering it unpotable. Marine species can be affected even if exposed to oil levels as low as 1 ppm.

9. Dumping of hazardous waste in India
India has become a dumping ground for hazardous waste (Anjello and Ranawana 1996, Agarwal 1998). Cheap labour, poor environmental standards, a sieve-like import regime and a growing market for cheap raw materials are all here. Ignoring its courts of law, India is helping rich nations beat an international ban on the dumping of toxic industrial waste in developing countries (Greenpeace 1997). Thousands of tones of toxic waste are being illegally shipped to India for recycling or dumping, despite a New Delhi court order banning imports of toxic materials. Every Indian port is a floodgate standing open for hazardous waste. Of course, the Indian government is keeping a tight rein on hazardous waste imports by licensing only five companies to accept metallic waste and letting only three companies export such waste to India for recycling. In fact, 151 different importing companies have imported nearly 73 000 tones of toxic zinc and lead residues from 49 countries. In 1995, Australia exported more than 1 450 tones of hazardous waste in the form of scrap lead batteries, zinc and copper ash to India. Huge quantities of PVC waste is still exported to Asia despite international agreements (Greenpeace 1998). A Greenpeace analysis of India's foreign trade data found that at least 1127 tones of zinc ash had been imported mainly from the United States since May 1996. Some 569 tones of lead battery waste were brought in through the main seaport of Bombay between October 1996 and January 1997. About 40 000 tones of broken lead batteries were imported during 1996. While lead acid batteries are in the Basel Ban List, Some 150 companies and trading houses are importing toxic waste into India though only seven are licensed to do so.
(Source: Hazardous waste management in India by TERI-2003)

10. The Manifest System
In rule 7, new sub rules (3 to 5) have been added to address issue of labeling and chain of custody protocol via a well articulated "manifest system". The proposed modification appears to "complete the loop so as to keep generator as well as regulator completely informed about generation to disposal. When an occupier is transporting out a hazardous waste, towards storage, treatment and disposal (STD) facility, movement documents are to be maintained. the transporting documents originated and signed by the generator or occupier is called as manifest.

11. Penalty to defaulters
The rules provide powers to closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process or stoppage or regulation of supply of electricity or water or any other services.

Whosoever fails to comply with or contravenes any of the provisions of the Rules made or orders or directions issued there under, shall in respect of each such failure or contravention, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both and in case of continued failure or contravention, with additional fine which may extend to five thousand rupees for every day.

12. Safety aspects
The waste containing hazardous substances should be subject to same safety precautions as other hazardous substances. Extremely hazardous wastes- particularly dusty materials or wastes with a high vapour pressure or strongly reactive wastes should be containerized for storage and transport. A proper classification and labeling system should be established for the transport of waste. The storage of the wastes should be subject to the same considerations as the storage of any other hazardous substance. Interim storage of large quantities should be avoided as far as possible. There should be clear evidence that an established disposal or treatment route is available before waste is consigned to interim storage. Particular care over the conditions of storage is essential, cool; dry, well ventilated conditions should be used for containerized waste. Drums should not be stored in the open air. All waste containing must be properly, unambiguously and indelibly labeled. Appropriate information for the emergency services should be displayed and emergency equipment, such as protective clothing, breathing apparatus and fire extinguishers should be readily available.

13. Recent Supreme Court judgment (14th October 2004)
All industries, involved in the hazardous chemicals and generating hazardous wastes display on-line data outside the factory gate, on quantity and nature of hazardous chemicals being used in the plant, as well as water and air emissions and solid wastes generated within the factory premises. If such data is not made available, the unit should be asked to show cause or even be asked to close down".
(Source CII presentation on the web)

Dr. Jagdish M Barot is Ph.D. in water management from Department of Engineering & Technology, MS University of Baroda. He has got his post graduate diploma in Sanitary Engineering and ME Degree in Environmental Engineering from International Institute of Environmental Engineering (UNESCO-I.H.E.), Delft Holland. He has his Masters Degree in Chemistry with first class from Gujarat University, India. He has First Class career throughout his School and College studies.

Dr. Barot has undergone intensive training on various aspects of Water, Sanitation and Environmental Management within the Country and Abroad. He has so far published 52 Technical Papers on various aspects of Environment Management, out of which ten papers are presented at International events and seven have got best paper awards. He has visited 20 countries in Asia, Europe and America as a part of study tours, paper presentation and a technical resource person. He is recipient of many Awards, Fellowships, Scholarships and Merit Certificates from Govt. of India, WHO, the World Bank, UNICEF, British Council, Dutch Government NGOs.

He is at present the Director of Applied Research & Training Institute (ARTI), Gandhinagar, an NGO working for environment, health and sustainable development. ARTI is currently involved in encironmental awareness programme of Govt. of India and water and sanitation programmes of state govt. and many NGOs.



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