However, we need to remediate soil within our factory premises.
Taking into consideration factors such as soil type, exposure scenarios, and the sensitivity of receptors, both human and environmental.
Important inputs to this proposal were: The expert studies conducted by these institutions of national repute were reviewed by the TNPCB and SEC before confirming 20 mg/kg as the applicable remediation standard in May 2013.
The CPCB also confirmed this standard in April 2015 after reviewing the results of all these studies.
In 2001, it was brought to our attention that glass scrap, containing residual mercury had been sold to a scrap dealer about three kilometres away from the factory, in breach of our guidelines.
On discovering this, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) immediately shut down the factory and took all the glass scrap with residual mercury along with the soil from the scrap yard back to the factory for safe storage.
Subsequently in 2003, HUL sent all mercury bearing material including the glass scrap from the scrap yard to a mercury recycler in the USA, after obtaining appropriate permissions.
The ceasing of operations in March 2001, the removal of all mercury-bearing material in 2003 and subsequently the decontamination and safe disposal of plant, machinery and materials used in thermometer manufacturing in 2006, have removed any risk of contamination to the ecologically sensitive region.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) – the foremost organisation that deals with issues concerning pollution control under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India – to whom the TNPCB had referred the matter, also approved the clean-up standard.
Some activists have made misleading claims about this complex issue which has resulted in further confusion.