The Island: Do quick, proper study of Norochcholai


Ranil Senanayake in his above titled essay gives an alarming scientific academic view referring to toxic emissions from the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant. It will interest readers and especially Ranil Senanayake, to know what the internationally reputed consultants on Coal Power Plants M/s. Rambol said in their final report.


Smoke emission

The smoke emission is arranged through a traditional smoke stack and flue gas conduct system, incorporating electrostatic fly ash, removing 99.2% of the solids from the flue gas.

With regard to Sulphur dioxide [SO2] and Nitrogen oxides [NOx], the boiler design and combustion systems are selected on such a way that the emission levels from the smoke stack are kept within the statutory level without special treatment of the flue gas, when the selected type of low Sulphur coal is used. Retrofitting of the plant with flue gas de-sulphurization equipment could be a future option of radical changes in the coal types to be used.

Atmospheric mathematical modelling will be used to determine the necessary height of the smoke stack as well as the resulting concentrations of particles, Sulphur dioxide [SO2] and Nitrogen oxides [NOx] at surface level. The results of the analyses are that the emission levels and the resulting particle matter, SO2 and NOx concentrations on the air, are well within the statutory limits and in accordance with good international practices.’

Acid rain

No coal fired power plant will run 365 days per year. For operation and maintenance reasons the average operation time is expected to be 75%. Ambient air quality standards were set so as not to harm people, animals and plants. Acid rain does not occur when ambient air quality standards are met. Low levels of SO2 and NOx do not have measurable effect on the pH of rainwater. As no acid rain will be induced by the project, no worst case acid rain scenario is to be prepared.

As years pass by there is wear and tear on machinery and it is the duty of the operating staff to be vigilant and take remedial action pronto. This is what, I believe Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya meant when he said ‘There is a scientific way of making such calculations and when the plant was built all these things were taken to account. We have to do these studies again to see if something has changed’, taking to consideration that the plant has been in operation for over ten years. It is strange, over the last ten years South West Monsoon has blown over Norochcholai and over the Sri Maha Bodhi and there has been no complaints. Why is it being brought up without any proof?

Here it is necessary to mention Carlo Fernando, Consultant to CEB, specially went to Orissa, a tea planting district in India, to study the impact of a Coal Power Plant on the tea plantation there. He came back and reported there was absolutely no damage.

It is sincerely hoped, RS has not deliberately mentioned the Sacred Jayasri Maha Bodhiya to rouse the feelings of Buddhists and Buddhist Monks, to harness their support for his gains.

My personal interest on this subject is that I have been handling this project from its inception, while attached to the Ministry for Power and Energy, with tremendous effort made by CEB staff and the Ministry to allay the baseless fears of the then Bishop of Chilaw, who vehemently objected to this plant being sited at Norochcholai, fearing it would have adverse effects on St. Anne’s Church – 12 Km away.




SLAS – Retd. Asst. Secretary, Ministry for Power and Energy.

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