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Vedanta plant: Small leak detected in sulphuric acid storage plant

A small leak had been detected in the sulphuric acid storage plant in Vedanta copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, a government official said on Sunday, about a month after the state had ordered its shutdown after protests in which around 13 people died and many were injured.

The Police had open fired on 22 May on a crowd of protesters calling for the shutdown of the plant on the grounds of pollution. The state government then ordered a permanent shutdown.

“A leakage was observed in the sulphuric acid storage plant. It doesn’t look problematic, but we have decided to evacuate the storage tomorrow as a safety precaution,” said Sandeep Nanduri, the district’s top administrative official.

Vedanta Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of Vedanta Resources PLC, which operates the smelter, said it has asked the government authorities to let company officials enter the plant to fix the problem in order to prevent any further damage.

Also read: Tamil Nadu govt orders permanent closure of Sterlite Copper plant

“Anticipating such incidents in the absence of regular maintenance, we have been requesting the state government to give us limited manpower access and minimal power supply so that mandatory safety audits at the smelter can be regularly carried out,” the company said in a statement.

“We have had no access to the plant ever since it was suddenly sealed and locked with effect from 28 May 2018,” it said.

The smelter accounted for over a third of India’s refined copper output, and India is set to see a rise in copper imports following the shutdown.

Sulphuric acid, a corrosive byproduct of smelting, is used by fertilizer and chemical companies as a raw material.

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