SHC moved against unsafe handling of petroleum coke

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Staff Reporter
The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to the Ministry of Ports & Shipping, the
Karachi Port Trust (KPT), the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) and others on a petition
against petroleum coke’s handling at the Karachi port and its unsafe transportation in the city causing

environmental risks.Representing a non-governmental organisation, petitioner Dr Syed Raza Ali has
challenged petcoke’s handling at the port and its transportation in the city, contending that despite the
Supreme Court banning coal handling at the KPT, thousands of tonnes of it is still being handled, kept in
open coal yard and transported in the city, causing serious health and environmental hazards.The
petitioner’s counsel Salahuddin Ahmed submitted that the KPT is allowing the import of petroleum coke
at the Karachi port without complying with the relevant environmental laws. He said that as petcoke has
the potential to cause harm to humans and the environment because it is not only inflammable but can
also poses several direct and indirect risks to the health of people.He added that petroleum coke
particles cause serious and life-threatening respiratory diseases, as they enter human lungs through the
air, and after penetrating them are very difficult to expel. Citing the example of other countries, he said
the handling and storage of petroleum coke in the US, India and other countries is either banned or
regulated through strict preventive measures.He said petcoke can cause a range of health problems,
including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, and most importantly, children
are the most susceptible and are affected by the early onset of respiratory disease, which can prove
fatal in the long term. He submitted that petroleum coke is being transported through heavy vehicles to
other cities from the KPT and that such vehicles pass through densely populated areas of Karachi,
including Clifton, Boat Basin, DHA and Quaidabad.He said petcoke particles on berth and jetty flow into
the water at the ports during washing or at the time of rain and cause marine pollution, which not only
poisons the water but also destroys marine habitats. He added that the SC had also banned coal
handling at the KPT, but in essence it includes petroleum coke because its unloading and transportation
from the port has the same ramifications as that of coal.He told the court that if petcoke’s import is
allowed in future, it should only happen through the Port Qasim.