Installation of smoke control devices: Brick kilns near airport violating environmental tribunal’s order

Published: December 22, 2010
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Kilns within a radius of 12-20 km of airport were asked to install smoke control devices.

Kilns within a radius of 12-20 km of airport were asked to install smoke control devices.

ISLAMABAD: Most brick kilns within a radius of 12 to 20 kilometres (km) of Benazir Bhutto International Airport are still not using smoke control devices. This is in violation of orders issued by Punjab Environmental Tribunal (PET) a few weeks ago.

PET had directed any brick kiln falling within 12 km of the airport to be removed within three months. Moreover, it had asked brick kilns outside the 12 km radius but within 20 km of the airport to install smoke control devices to reduce the smoke being emitted. This was meant to improve visibility around the airport so that airplanes could take-off and land easily.

Brick kiln owners had said that they did not have a cost-effective emission control solution. Furthermore, the devices available in the market were incompatible with the kilns operating in Pakistan.

In response, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) Islamabad developed a smoke-control device that has a much lower installation and operating cost, according to Sajid Mahmood, Chemist Air at Pak-EPA Islamabad.

The device, designed by Mahmood himself, was made specifically for brick kilns. But he said the brick kiln owners were not interested in implementing PET’s orders. He said there was a dire need to educate them to obey the tribunal orders.

“There are 72 brick kilns working within the vicinity of Islamabad Capital Territory,” he said. Twelve of these are located near Benazir Bhutto International Airport Islamabad.

He said that the device had been approved by PET and is cost-effective and environment-friendly. Moreover, it has been specifically designed for brick kilns in Pakistan without disturbing their natural mechanism.

The device installs on the mouth of the stack. The water in the device absorbs particles and gases in the smoke and reduces the amount of smoke emitted by 50 to 60 per cent, said Mahmood.

He added that his device was superior to other alternatives such as skid-mounted wet scrubber. The scrubber showers water onto the smoke and a single shower consumes approximately 11 gallons per minute. The total water circulation in the brick kiln is 680 gallons per minute. In comparison Pak-EPA’s proposed device consumes just 16 gallons of water in 24 hours. He added that the water needs to be changed every two to three days, which is significantly less than the alternatives.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2010.

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