|Sunday, 20 January 2002|
Cabinet approval sought to ban sale of leaded petrol
by Neomi Kodikara
The Environment and Natural Resource Ministry is seeking Cabinet approval to ban forthwith the sale of leaded petrol in Sri Lanka.
Director of the Environment Economic and Global Affairs Division of the Ministry, B.M.S. Batagoda, said that this had been planned to be accomplished during the Ministry's 100-day rapid programme.
"The use of leaded petrol is banned in all industrial countries and even in most Third World countries, but not in Sri Lanka so far", he said. Lead in petrol is harmful to the engines and its emissions from petrol vehicles are harmful to human health.
"Due to the financial situation of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) there was a reluctance to ban its sale and the imported lead stock are still lying in the stores of the CPC, and it was not in a position to cancel the import quotas already ordered", he said.
Lead is a slow-acting poison that accumulates in the environment and in the body. The main toxic effects interfere with the nervous system, hinder the development of children and increase blood pressure in adults. Lead in petrol increases engine maintenance cost by fouling spark plugs, fouling and corroding exhaust valves and corroding exhaust pipes and internal engine parts.
The alternatives like methyl-tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a petro-chemical used in large volumes worldwide, and ethanol produced from sugar cane and other crops are other successful substitutes. "The added cost of meeting these specifications are more than Rs. 2 per litre, but health benefits of eliminating lead emission are typically at least 10 times as high, he explained.
A Cabinet memorandum in relation to phasing out leaded petrol was adopted by the then Ministry in 1997. According to that, the use of leaded petrol should be totally stopped in 2010.
Produced by Lake House