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NATIONAL KEY

ENVIRONMENTAL
ISSUES IN
SRI LANKA

RAMANI ELLEPOLA
LECTURE AT INSTITUTION OF
ENGINEERS Feb. 08, 2017
ENVIRONMENTAL
PROTECTION IN SRI LANKA
The need for environmental safeguards is
enshrined in the constitution.
Article 27 states that the state shall protect,
preserve and improve the environment for the
benefit of the community
Article 28f states that the exercise and
enjoyment of rights and freedoms is
inseparable from the performance of duties and
obligations and accordingly it is the duty of
every person in Sri Lanka to protect nature and
conserve its riches
ENVIRONMENTAL
PROTECTION IN SRI LANKA
In Sri Lanka, there are a multitude of laws
(more than 100!) with some provisions relating
to Environmental Protection and Management.
Some of the earliest environmental legislation
dates back to the last century (e.g. Forestry,
Protection of high elevations)
The National Environmental Act no 47 of 1980,
is the first comprehensive piece of legislation
dealing EXCLUSIVELY with environmental
Protection and Management.
AGENCIES DEALING WITH
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
Coast Conservation Department
Marine pollution Prevention Authority
Sustainable Energy Authority
Central Environmental Authority
Forest Department
Department of Wildlife Conservation
North Western provincial council
Environmental Authority
GREEN VERSUS BROWN
ISSUES
Legislation relating to Green Issues(eg
forestry, wildlife) have been around in Sri
Lanka for many years-sometimes dating
back to hundred years.
However legislation relating to the so
called Brown Issues(eg water, air ,
industrialPollution Control) are more
recent, and were brought in after the
enactment of the National Environmental
Act.
FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE
CONSERVATION
The Forest Department and Department of
Wildlife Conservation controls 1.9 million
hectares between them.
The Forest Departments main functions consist
of Conserving forests as well as biological
diversity.
DWLCs function is to protect the nations
indigenous fauna and flora.Establishment of
National Reserves and Sanctuaries is a major
function of the DWLC.
HISTORY OF THE CEA

CEA was set up in 1981, under the


provisions in the National Environmental
Act no 47 of 1980
At the inception, the CEA was a
coordinating and policy making body
with no regulatory authority.
In 1988, amendments were made to the
NEA which transformed the CEA into a
Regulatory Agency.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
IN SRI LANKA
Municipal Solid Waste (urban areas)
Coastal erosion
Water pollution (Mainly from sewage)
Air pollution(mainly vehicular pollution)
Hazardous waste management
Inappropriate siting of industry
Human elephant conflict
Soil erosion
Deforestation
Municipal solid waste
management
Municipal solid waste management is a
major issue in urban areas
Even in cities where collection is done
properly, final disposal is a problem
In Colombo, final disposal of waste is
causing a major social and political issue
All existing disposal sites are dumps as
opposed to sanitary landfill sites
MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE
MANAGEMENT
The very first sanitary landfill site will be
opened in Dompe shortly
The Pilisaruproject implemented by the
CEA has been assisting Local
Authorities in setting up composting
plants for municipal solid waste
Around 80 local authorities have set up
such plants
HAZARDOUS WASTE
MANAGEMENT
Disposal of hazardous waste also poses
a problem in Sri lanka
CEA has gazetted waste streams which
are considered as hazardous waste
This includes hospital waste
A majority of hospitals in Sri Lanka do
not dispose of their waste properly
HAZARDOUS WASTE

Hazardous waste from many industries


is not properly disposed of
Lack of a disposal site is a problem
Holcim accepts some hazardous waste
for incineration in their cement kiln
Although the quantities generated are
not very high a proper system is required
urgently to treat and dispose of
hazardous waste.
INAPPROPRIATE SITING OF
INDUSTRY
Inappropriate Siting of industries can
result in pollution problems and nuisance
Caused mainly by small scale cottage
type of industry
Industry may start in a house thereby
causing a nuisance to neighbors
Bigger industries usually go through a
site approval procedure from CEA and
the Local Authority
IMPROPER SITING OF
INDUSTRY
There is a government policy that high
polluting industry should be sited within
industrial estates
Not sufficient industrial estates in the
country
Some industrial zones do not have
sufficient infrastructure such as waste
treatment facilities
WATER POLLUTION

Pollution of water bodies is mainly from


non point sources(eg sewage)
Some industries discharge untreated
waste into water bodies(eg Rubber
factories)
Pollution due to chemicals or industrial
effluents is not widespread
Rathupaswela-unique case
COMMON WASTE
TREATMENT PLANTS

Two common waste treatment plants


have been established in Moratuwa-
Ratmalana and Ekale-Jaela where there
is a high concentration of industry
The wastewater from the industries are
treated in the common waste treatment
plant prior to discharge into the sea
Industries pay according to their waste
load.
Human Elephant conflict

The human elephant conflict is becoming


a major issue in Sri Lanka
Unplanned development is a major
cause for this issue(example-large scale
development projects built over elephant
corridors)
Although the Department of Wildlife
Conservation is being blamed for the
situation, the cause for the conflict is
beyond their mandate
REGULATORY FUNCTIONS OF
THE CEA
The CEA has focused its attention on two
main regulatory functions

1.Environmental Impact Assessment


(EIA)
2. Environmental Protection Licence for
waste discharging industry (EPL)
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
ASSESSMENT(EIA)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)


is one of the most powerful tools in
operational sing the concept of
Sustainable Development
Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA)-Contd.
Environmental Impact Assessment is a
planning tool which could go a long way
in ensuring a sustainable development
process.
All major infrastructure projects as well
major development projects now require
an EIA prior to implementation, thereby
ensuring that almost all adverse
environmental impacts will be mitigated.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN
EIA?
The purpose of an EIA is to ensure that
development plans or projects under
consideration are environmentally sound
and sustainable, and that environmental
consequences are recognized and taken
into account early in the project design.
History of EIA in Sri Lanka

1981-Legal provisions for EIA included in


the Coast Conservation Act no. 57 of
1981(provisions restricted to the coastal
zone only)
1988-Amendments to the National
Environmental Act mandates EIA for all
Prescribed Projects.
Does EVERY project require an
EIA?
Every project does NOT require EIA. Only so
called Prescribed Projects require EIA.
The list of Prescribed Projects are listed in
gazette no 772/22 dated 24.06.93.
A total of 31 projects are listed as requiring EIA
In addition, projects to be sited in
environmentally sensitive areas require to
undergo EIA.
EIA DECISION MAKING

There is a misconception that EIA


process is effective ONLY if it results
in the rejection of projects.
The purpose of EIA is NOT the
rejection of projects but to assist in
the planning of a BETTER project.
Although the EIA process in Sri Lanka
may have some weaknesses, it has
definitely resulted in the better
planning of projects.
PROJECTS IN SRI LANKA

Many projects in Sri Lanka are


politically driven.
There are many instances where
proper feasibility studies are not
even done prior to implementation
of major projects.
In such instances the EIA
procedure becomes part of the
feasibility study in addition to the
EIA.
PROJECT EXAMPLES
Industrial Estates with no water source
in sight
Sulphuric Acid factory next to Ranaviru
Housing project
Weeravila Airport in the middle of three
Bird Sanctuaries
Ship Breaking industry near Trincomalee
Bay area.
All of the above projects should have
been rejected long before the EIA
process.
PROJECT DECISION
MAKING
Many agencies do not make the decisions
which are possible under their own
legislation but await the decision of the EIA.
This can cost a lot in terms of money and
time for the project proponent as well as to
other agencies
Issues such as water availability for the
project, sitting issues, land issues, risk
assessments, zoning issues, legal issues
are all addressed through the EIA.
DECISION MAKING

AS A RESULT THE EIA PROCESS


BECOMES THE SCAPEGOAT
EIA process is blamed for delaying
projects, slowing down development in
the country, and for the rejection of
good projects
In actual fact the rate of rejection of
projects under EIA is around 2%
The other 98% of projects become
BETTER projects as a result of EIA.
PURPOSE OF EIA

The main purpose of EIA is not


the Approval or Rejection of
projects, but to ensure that
projects which are proposed go
ahead with minimum damage to
the environment.
EMOTIONAL VERSUS
ANALYTICAL DECISION
MAKING
It is very important in EIA
decision making not to resort to
emotional decision making but
to be very analytical and
scientific in assessing the
magnitude of the impact on the
environment as well as the
possibility or otherwise of
mitigating such impacts.
IMPACT MITIGATION

We cannot and should not take


the stand that all possible
impacts from a project should be
100%mitigated.
Neither should we expect the EIA
report to study every single
impact that arises from a project
in great detail.
This only results in taking
SCOPING AND TERMS OF
REFERENCE
SCOPINGis an integral part of
the EIA process.
It is a VITAL requirement in the
EIA process as it allows focusing
attention on major issues.
The Terms of Reference should
be a follow up to scoping
whereby the TOR would focus
only on major issues.
THE EIA REPORT

The main purpose of an EIA report


is to ASSIST in the decision making
process.
The main part of the EIA which
assist in decision making is the
quantification of the project
impacts, the level of mitigation
possible and an analysis of project
impacts on the environment and its
consequences if any
EIA REPORTS

EIA REPORTS ARE EXPECTED


TO BE CONCISE REPORTS WITH
ADEQUATE INFORMATION FOR
DECISION MAKING.
HOWEVER MANY EIA REPORTS
ARE ACADEMIC REPORTS
RATHER THAN PRACTICAL
REPORTS.
PROBLEMS IN EIA
REPORTS
Many EIA reports fall short of this
expectation.
A majority of reports have very good
descriptions of the existing
environment, project details and very
long explanations of minor impacts of
little consequence.
The reports have no proper
analysis of the impacts of the
project on the environment.
EIA REPORT CONTENTS

A 1500 page report discussing


mostly the project details, the
existing environment around the
project, and long details about
minor impacts which could be
ignored, is less valuable than a 100
page report which accurately
analyses the possible impacts of
the project and their magnitudes,
and the possible extent of
mitigation.
WRONG USE OF EIA BY
INTERESTED PARTIES
Sometimes the EIA process may be
used by interested parties to reject a
project.
Examples
Waste to energy projects
Hotel Projects
The PAA should be aware of such
possibilities in making decisions.
conclusion

The EIA process is meant to ASSIST in


the decision making process
The EIA reports are not meant to
confuse decision makers with
unnecessary details but give a clear
concise analysis of the project impacts
on the environment and the extent to
which they could be mitigated and
details of impacts that cannot be
mitigated.
EIA IN SRI LANKA

Many project proponents look at EIA as


a hurdle to development
EIA can assist in planning a better
project
As engineers, EIA can be made use of to
plan a better project overall
PLANNING OF PROJECTS

Engineers involved in project planning


should also look into environmental
aspects during the planning stage.
During the feasibility and planning stage
issues such as loss of forest cover and
impacts on wildlife should be considered
in addition to engineering aspects
It is difficult to change a plan during the
EIA stage
PROJECT PLANNING

There are many irrigation and water


supply projects planned especially in the
North.
These are very useful projects as they
provide irrigation and drinking water to
areas which were deprived of water in
the past.
PROJECT PLANNING

During the project planning and


feasibility stage, it is very important for
the engineering professionals to have
close consultation and discussions with
conservation agencies such as the
Forest Department and Department of
Wildlife Conservation in order to adress
the issues they may have.
PROJECT PLANNING

In many projects in Sri Lanka, agencies


such as the Forest Department and
Department of Wildlife Conservation get
to know about the projects only at the
EIA stage.
This is too late in the project cycle and
many projects get delayed due to this
reason
Pollution Control

One of the major areas in which the CEA


is involved is the control of pollution from
industry.
In addition, the CEA is involved in the
control of water pollution, air pollution,
noise pollution and Hazardous waste
management.
Control of Water Pollution

One of the major impacts of industries


on the environment is the discharge of
waste water which causes water
pollution in water bodies such as rivers,
lakes and lagoons as well as the ocean.
In order to control such pollution, the
CEA has specified standards which are
required to be met be industries when
discharging their waste effluents.
Industrial Pollution control

The CEA controls pollution arising from


industry through the process of issuing
an Environmental Protection
Licence(EPL) to industries.
The EPL issued to an industry stipulates
the standards and criteria to be met by
the industry during its operations and
discharge of effluents and noise.
If the industry violates any of the
conditions in the EPL the CEA can file
legal action against the industry.
Control of Water Pollution-
contd;
The standards stipulated by the CEA
specifies the level of pollutants which are
allowed to be discharged into the
environment.
Example-Biological Oxygen
Demand(BOD) is a measure of the
pollutant load of waste water.The CEA
specifies a BOD level of 30mg/L for
waste water discharged into water ways.
Control of Water Pollution-
Contd
In addition chemicals such as Mercury,
Chromium, Lead which are toxic heavy
metals are not allowed to be present in
waste water as these heavy metals
could lead to severe pollution and
human health impacts.
These precautions have been taken in
order to prevent situations such as the
Minamata incident and itai-itai disease in
Japan
MISCONCEPTION

There is a misconception that the


standards specified by the CEA are too
stringent for a country such as Sri Lanka.
However the standards in Sri Lanka are
very similar to those in other countries in
the region such as India and Thailand.
LOW COST POLLUTION
CONTROL TECHNOLOGY
There is however an urgent need for low
cost technology for waste treatment in
Sri Lanka.
Example-ITI developed a low cost
method for the treatment of wastewater
from service stations.
Cost of ITI method-200,000.00
Cost of treatment given by university-
5,000,000.00
Control of Air Pollution
A major human health hazard in urban
areas is air pollution caused by vehicular
emissions.
The major air pollutants which are a
cause of human health hazard are
Sulphur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and
Oxides of Nitrogen.
These air pollutants could cause major
health problems unless they are kept
under control.
In the past, a major problem was caused
Air Pollution

Diesel vehicles- the major pollutants


arising from diesel vehicles are Sulphur
Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen
Oxide, Hydro Carbons and Particulates.
Petrol Vehicles- Main pollutants from
petrol vehicles are Lead, Aromatics,
Carbon Monoxide, Hydro Carbons,
Oxides of Nitrogen, Suspended
Particulate Matter(SPM)
The main air pollutants from industries
are Sulphur Dioxide, Oxides of Nitrogen
and Particulates.
EFFECTS OF AIR
POLLUTION
Health Effects- due to Lead, Oxides of
Nitrogen, Sulphur di Oxide and
Particulate Matter.
Acid Rain-due to Sulphur Dioxide and
Oxides of Nitrogen forming Sulphuric
Acid and Nitric Acid.
Effects on buildings and monuments due
to acid rain.
Smog formation.
Damage to crops.
Effects of Air Pollution-contd;

Global Warming-Green House Effect-


mainly due to Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous
Oxides and Methane.
Ozone depletion- due CFCs, Nitrogen
Oxides
Loss of natural forests(due to Acid
Rain)eg. Europe
Acidification of water bodies and soil due
to Sulphur Di oxide and Oxides of
Nitrogen.
Situation in Sri Lanka

Ambient Air Quality standards gazetted


in 1994.
Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide levels
are more stringent than WHO
recommended levels.
Levels of CO, NOx, SO2 are still lower
than WHO reocommended levels.
Particulate matter(dust) exceeds WHO
recommended levels.
Air Pollution-Contd;

Lead fumes can cause severe health


problems including mental retardation in
children under the age of five.Since the
use of leaded petrol has now been
discontinued the possibility of exposure
to Lead through vehicle emissions is
eliminated.
The CEA has also developed vehicular
emission standards for both petrol and
diesel vehicles.
Air Pollution Control-Contd

Regulations have already been gazetted


requirng vehicles to meet the standards
stipulated by the CEA.
Vehicles now have to provide a vehicle
emission test report when renewing the
annual licence.
The use of two stroke three wheelers
have also been banned from 2008 as
two stroke three wheelers cause heavy
pollution.
Air Pollution-Contd

In addition to vehicle pollution industries


such as thermal power plants which are
run on diesel and heavy fuel oil can also
cause severe pollution.

The CEA has stipulated air emission


standards for air polluting industries
including thermal power plants in order
to control air pollution arising from these.
Coal Power Plants

Sri lanka has plans to expand coal


powered thermal power plants in future.
Coal may be the cheapest fuel for power
generation.
However coal plants have many
environmental issues
Environmental Issues in Coal
plants
Air Pollution (mainly SO2, Nox but also
mercury and radioactive nuclides)
A major issue with coal plants is the
bottom ash and fly ash which contains
heavy metals such as Mercury in
addition to radioactive material.
NATURAL GAS

Sri Lanka does not have any hazardous


waste disposal landfill sites. With the
expansion of coal power plants this is
bound to pose a serious environmental
issue in the future.
Many countries are now switching over
to Natural Gas for power generation.
Natural Gas is a clean fuel and no
emissions of SO2 and very much less
emissions of Nox and CO2
HAZARDOUS WASTE
MANAGEMENT
Regulations for the management of hazardous
waste have been gazetted under the National
Environmental Act.
In addition to various types of industrial waste
streams, hospital waste has also been included
in the list of waste streams classified as being
hazardous.
Industries generating hazardous waste are
required to obtain an additional permit, in
addition to the EPL, from the CEA.
13 th Amendment to the
Constituition
Under the 13 th Amendment
environment is in the concurrent list.
The Central Government as well as the
Provincial Council have powers in this
regard.
The separation of powers between the
Central Government and the provinces
has not been laid down
NORTH WESTERN
PROVINCIAL COUNCIL
The Northwestern provincial Council has
enacted its own statute on Environment.
The Attorney General has ruled that
under these circumstances the CEA has
no authority within the North Western
Province .
ISSUES REGARDING THE
NORTH WESTERN
PROVINCIAL COUNCIL
There are issues such as air pollution
issues which are not confined within a
province.
Norochcholai Coal Power Plant EIA
approval was granted by the North
Western Province Environmental
Authority and not the CEA
13th Amendment

There are other issues such as


setting of environmental standards,
national rivers,
Hazardous waste Management,
control of chemicals,
international Environmental conventions
which has to be handled at the centre
and not by the provinces.
13th Amendment

This is an issue which has to be clarified


And settled very early in order to avoid
confusion and chaos.