EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s MTD Walkers rejected allegations its thermal power unit in northern Jaffna was releasing waste oil and polluting wells in the peninsula, calling for an independent probe into the contamination as well as a war-time oil spill.
MTD Walkers Chief Executive Lal Perera said the allegation against Northern Power Company was raised by parties with "vested interests" and that none had been so far accepted by courts or by any government authority.
"As all evidence presented to Court points directly to another location as being the source of contamination," he told a news conference. "The company is not in any way liable."
Hundreds of Jaffna residents have been protesting in recent days, accusing the power plant of being the source of their well-water pollution in the Chunnakam area of the peninsula, which depends largely on its limestone aquifer for drinking water and irrigation.
Jaffna gets rain only during the north-east monsoon during the winter months of the northern hemisphere.
Northern Power Co began generating power in 2009 just as the island’s 30-year ethnic war ended and supplied Jaffna till 2012 when the national grid was reconnected.
Perera of MTD Walkers said it is now used to generate electricity during the peak demand period to supplement grid power.
The company’s sells waste oil instead of dumping it as it can earn money from it, he said.
The power station’s own well was used for drinking and it could not be held responsible for pollution in wells 2-3 kilometers away from the plant.
The power plant is operated with all necessary environmental licenses issued on an annual basis with quarterly checks carried out by the licensing authorities, he said.
He asked for a probe into oil that had leaked from a government power plant destroyed during the war.
"A large oil lake existed within the previous state-run power plant premises before Northern Power commenced operations. Subsequently in and around 2012 the area was filled with earth and compacted as a new substation was built on this premises," he said.
"Unfortunately, to date no one has questioned or researched to find out what happened to this large quantity of oil that was contained in this ‘oil lake’.”