Water samples reveal extreme levels of chromium
18 februari, 2020
The forced move of the tanneries from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to Savar was supposed to save the environment, but specimens taken by Dagens Arbete reveal that a new catastrophe is in the making.
In 2017, the government of Bangladesh forcibly moved the tanneries that were situated inside Dhaka, to a brand new industrial zone in Savar, one hour’s drive from the capital.
There is still no solution for the solid tannery waste that is piling up by the river Dhaleswhari. The waste from the tanneries consists mainly of leftover bits of hide permeated with up to 150 different chemicals that are used in the process. At the dump, there are often fires. The smoke is spreads over the fields and further on to the scattered houses where people live.
Dagens Arbete has taken specimen from the refuse and has had it analysed in a laboratory in Sweden. The amount of Hexavalent Chromium was 73.1 milligram per kilo. In Sweden, the target value for industrial areas is 10 milligram per kilo.
“The large amounts of Hexavalent Chromium and Chloride are sticking out,” says Stefan Rydin, one of Europe’s most prominent experts regarding environmental issues surrounding the tanning business.
According to Camilla Westlund, inspector at Swedish Chemicals Agency , the risk of cancer is greatest when breating in, but it should no be disregarded that skin contact with Hexavalent Chromium can cause cancer.
It surprises Stefan Rydin that the Bangladesh government has not solved the problems with the waste.
“The pollution has only been moved,” he says.
Dagens Arbete has also taken samples from the surface water in Savar, which comes out in the river Dhaleswhari. The tests have been analysed in a lab in Dhaka.
“Those are extreme levels of chromium that should not appear in the surface water”, says Markus Sundbom, environment researcher at the Stockholm University. “All in all, the test results indicate that untreated waste water from the tanneries has been leaking. That is a vile brew pouring into the river which risks leading to lack of oxygen, causing fish to flee or to die.”