The Sunday Leader

Sealing Of CIC Warehouse:Tip Of The Lceberg

By Hafsa Sabry

Warehouse sealed

Among many kinds of dilemmas and uncertainties of life, what if  plants and food that we consume on the assurance of being nutritious by the respective authorities in the country following thorough scientific laboratory inspections and observations,  become the cause for dangerous and incurable diseases leading to death?The controversy over the importation of a stock of fertilizer with a very high concentration of the heavy metal cadmium by a leading private company in the country sent shockwaves among society.

The warehouse of CIC Fertilizer in the Peliyagoda area was sealed completely preventing the distribution of the CIC fertilizers to the market as a result of the tests carried out by the  Ministry  of Agriculture under the direction of the Minister of Agriculture Duminda Dissanayake.   When observing the cause of kidney diseases in the country  it was revealed that the over-exposure to cadmium, the chemical element of atomic number 48, a silvery-white metal is the main cause for many to suffer kidney diseases in the nation. The number of diagnosed kidney patients is rising to 1000 every year resulting in many deaths due to kidney failure and as a result, the President introduced a funding provision to aid the victims.       The regulations of organic fertilizers could contain cadmium only up to 0.05 mg per kilogram whereas the recent test samples of CIC fertilizers contained an amount of 23.5mg in a kilogram. This is a higher risk level of heavy metallic contamination which led to the warehouse being sealed.

Earlier the imported fertilizers were tested under the name of the importing company and as a result, the CIC fertilizerswas alleged to be misused the regulations by bribing the authorities to pass the fertilizers claiming they meet the national required standards oforganic fertilizers. As a result of misuse and influence of power by some of the companies in the country, the Agricultural Ministry  changed the process of testing the fertilizer samples recently as they were tested by the ministry recommended laboratories in the country to avoid the influence and the power in passing the contaminated fertilizers into the country.However, other stocks of the CIC fertilizers except for what was sealed at the Peheliyagoda warehouse was released to the market. This raises a question as to how a part of the fertilizers from the same company can be sealed and the other part be released. As the respective authorities have acted against the law they should also act vigilantly in implementing it with immediate effect against the companies that poison the food of the country and its people with heavy metallic components.

 

Director for the  Agricultural Secretariat

Muriate of Potash (MOP), NPK fertilizer (Nitrogen Phosphorus and Potassium) and Trisodium Phosphate (TP) from other countries.These fertilizers are used for two major streams in Sri Lanka, for the cultivation of paddy  and for other crops.

“In general the TP contains a little amount of cadmium around 0.05gmg, per kilogram in the fertilizer which is not a major problem but in this particular company’s stock we found a huge amount of cadmium contamination for the first time in Sri Lanka,” said the Additional Secretary to the Ministry and the Director of fertilizer secretariat Vijitha Piyathilake. He added that there are six laboratories where they carry out tests in Sri Lanka out of which two belong to the Sri Lankan government, Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) and Scientific Laboratory Supplies Ltd, (SLS) where they send the samples of fertilizers that were imported into the country.

“As our Minister for Agriculture Duminda Dissanayake and the secretary B.Wijeratne’s instructions the process of testing the samples by the companies was changed through the ministry and as a result of the change we were able to trace this down. Same attention is paid to other companies that distribute fertilizers to the country”, said Piyathilake.

Although the ministry vehicles and officials send them to the laboratories  the companies are not aware of it. If the test reports are at the level of requirements we allow them to release their stock to the market,” he said.

“We adhere with the fertilizer act 1988 number 68 to the constitution, to check each and every fertilizer stock that was imported to Sri Lanka before distribution. We also concentrate on heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead to avoid  human exposure to them as they can cause kidney and cancer diseases,”he noted “We are carrying out further investigations against the alleged company and following the submission of reports the authority will instruct them to re-export the stock to the suppliers,” said Piyathilake.

 

CIC HR Manager

However, the HR Manager of the CIC fertilizers Marlon Fernandopulle speaking to The Sunday Leader said that he denies the allegations with regard to the bribes and there  have been instances where the CIC has sent back the fertilizers to the suppliers as they were not upto  the required standards.

“This is one incident that got the attention of media publicity, many did not know that we have undergone similar situations these in the past but not with such a huge amount,” he said.Before any fertilizers were imported to the country they have to undergo many tests by the Agricultural Secretariat in Sri Lanka and international accredited laboratory tests to check whether they meet the national required standard of fertilizers in the country. The first test samples were checked before the importation by the Agricultural Secretariat Sri Lanka tothe approval of the product sheet, document that has the description of fertilizers and qualities, of the company.The second testing is carried out in the country where the fertilizers are imported from, before the fertilizers were loaded to the ships they undergo laboratory tests to obtain approval to be shipped.

The third round of testing is done after the stocks are stored into the companies before they were distributed in Sri Lanka and that is when the CIC fertilizers were trapped containing a higher level of cadmium in their fertilizers.

The HR Manager of the CIC fertilizers claimed that another test sample was carried out to ensure whether the third test samples was positive with cadmium or not, adding that the results can prove either positive or negative and the report will be submitted in next few days.He also said that if the fertilizers are positive with a high amount of cadmium, the stock will be sent back to the suppliers and legal action will be taken against them  to reimburse the expenses for the CIC.

 

The health effects of exposure to cadmium

Cadmium can get into our blood stream by eating and drinking cadmium-contaminated food or water and by breathing cadmium contaminated air. Exposure to cadmium can cause a number of harmful health effects. Eating food or drinking water with high levels of cadmium can severely irritate or bother your stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Breathing high doses of cadmium can irritate and damage the lungs and can cause death.

However, the greatest concern is from exposure to lower doses of cadmium over a long period of time. The lower and long-term exposure to cadmium through air or through diet can cause kidney damage. Although the damage is not life-threatening, it can lead to the formation of kidney stones and affect the skeleton, which can be painful. Lung damage has also been observed.The results of some animal studies show that animals given cadmium-contaminated food and water show high blood pressure, iron-poor blood, liver disease, nerve damage or brain damage. These effects have not been observed in humans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that cadmium and certain cadmium compounds are suspected of carcinogens. These are substances that cause cancer.

 

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The levels of exposure have resulted in harmful health effects

In general, the amount of cadmium that will cause health problems will vary depending on the type of exposure eating or breathing, the duration of the exposure short- or long term, and the form of cadmium, pure cadmium or some combination.

Studies show that humans can experience lung irritation after breathing as little as 1.0 milligrams per cubic meter of air of cadmium-contaminated air for a short period of time less than or equal to 14 days.Breathing 0.01mg of cadmium contaminated air over the long-term (greater than 14 days) has resulted in chronic lung disease and kidney disease in humans. Humans that eat or drink cadmium contaminated food and water for a short period of time (less than 14 days) in amounts of 0.05 milligrams can experience stomach irritation.Long-term exposure (greater than 14 days) in amounts of 0.005 mg per day cause relatively little risk of injury to the kidney or other tissues.

5 Comments for “Sealing Of CIC Warehouse:Tip Of The Lceberg”

  1. So Bribery has and is reaching epidemic levels of discovery. When ever these fraudulent discoveries ,they somehow manage to escape the law and is even given praise in the press. This is one way for the hierarchy to make profit, as otherwise, how can they keep up to their new found status and its symbols. So, its status at any price and profit in any which way you can. They should be heavily fined and even suspended if found , like in other countries that are very strict and clear on these matters. Coca- Cola , and certain other companies escaped with minor fines and is absolutely disgraceful.

  2. Chandra

    We will from now on stop buying CIC grown veggies. We were made to eat poison all the time. These companies boast of quality cheating the public

  3. Hangman

    The Cabinet of Ministers should give serious consideration to this incident. On one hand these companies are distributing poison to murder the consumers and on the other they are creating a nation of sick people requiring medical attention provided by government hospitals using public funds where these funds could be utilised to raise living standars of people.

  4. Raymond Fernando

    This is a very good step by the authorities to keep the public healthy and to maintain high quality standards of imported fertilizer. However, there is some mention about organic fertilizer that has .05g/Kg of Cadmium compared with the imported fertilizer that has like 23.5g/Kg. This is somewhat confusing because one has to compare apples with apples. Comparing organic fertilizer with Inorganic fertilizer is incorrect. I think it is an error which has to be corrected. Compare the standards of inorganic with the inorganic imported fertilizer. Thank You.

  5. MR Government was the best for all crooks & crooked deals. You can import or export anything at a cost, money spoke all languages , it was merry go round for all crooks, what is earned by them is more than enough to last a few generation to come. All are hoping for another MR to come to power, even if he dont come there is good chance for the Sinthatic Lawyer to come to power in the future with the unimmaginable amount of wealth he has accumalated so far, he can wait for some time for the tension to cool down & take the father’s side, anyway he is father’s son.

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