The menace of toxic emissions at petrol pumps in the national capital has come under the lens of the National Green Tribunal which has asked the Centre to respond to a plea alleging lack of air quality norms at fuel stations.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Environment Ministry, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and others while seeking their reply by April 7.
The tribunal was hearing the plea by advocate Aditya N Prasad and Delhi resident Vallari Sheel who contended that petroleum products at fuel stations contribute significantly to air pollution and sought directions to stop release of volatile compounds during transfer of petroleum products.
The plea referred to a study conducted at various petrol pumps of Delhi which has found that the level of toxic fumes containing pollutants known as volatile organic compounds (benzene, toluene and xylene) was several thousand times higher than the permissible limits.
“Petroleum products at fuel stations contain traces of Benzene, Toluene and Xylene (BTX) all of which are highly toxic in nature. BTX are also potentially toxic air pollutants among other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and have been subjected to significant investigations/research in western countries as well as in India.
“BTX is present in both exhaust emissions from vehicles and evaporative emissions at the fuel delivery outlets. It is pertinent to note that exposure to high level of BTX causes neuro-toxic symptoms. Persistent exposure to high levels of BTX may cause injury to human bone marrow, DNA damage in mammalian cells and damage to the immune system,” the plea said.
Recently, Delhi Pollution Control Committee had directed all the oil companies to ensure installation of vapour recovery system at petrol pumps in the city.
“Direct the respondents to install Stage I and Stage II vapour recovery devices at all fuel stations, distribution centres, terminals, railway loading/unloading facilities and airports in the National Capital Territory of Delhi,” the plea said.