Illegal oil extraction plants making money at cost of environment, people’s health

  • Units using used-tyres for extracting furnace oil operating in Badami Bagh, Green Town, Thokar Niaz Baig, different localities on Bund Road and areas adjacent to Multan Road
  • Most of the units owned by influential people having links with political parties

Over a dozen factories or units in the provincial metropolis have been using used-tyres for extracting furnace oil, carbon powder and steel wires to make big bucks at the cost of environment and health of millions of people by releasing toxic soup of pollutants in the air, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to environment experts, burning tyres and plastic material release a tremendous amount of pollutants and residue that settle deep in the lungs, raising number of patients diagnosed with lungs and other respiratory diseases right under the nose of authorities concerned.

Sources in the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) confided to Pakistan Today that in Lahore, illegal oil extracting plants/ units were operating in Badami Bagh, Green Town, Thokar Niaz Baig, different localities on Bund Road and areas adjacent to Multan Road. They said that since these units belonged to influential people having links with political parties, EPA officials were helpless.

According to details, illegal oil extracting plants/units extract furnace oil, crude oil, steel wires and carbon from used-tyres and sell them in the market at prices of new products unmindful of the amount of toxic gases and deadly carbon they release in the air during the process.

“They (factories, plants) extract 70,000 litres of oil each day and release 180 tonnes of carbon powder in the air despite the fact that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has already banned extraction of furnace oil from used-tyres for its adverse impact on environment,” the sources said.

“Many times the department raided and closed such illegal plants but they started operating again after paying fines,” an EPA official told Pakistan Today, adding, “Not only used tyres, these plants also used all kinds of plastic and rubber material for extraction of oil.”

The official, who requested anonymity, further said that as the price of this extracted oil was lower than the diesel and furnace oil, many small industries used it as fuel.

According to the EPA, more than 100 out of 350 steel mills operating in the city were found using sub-standard fuel being purchased from local oil extractors in a massive drive launched a couple of months ago.

When contacted, District Officer (DO) Environment Anjum Riaz told Pakistan Today that the department was mindful of this environmental issue and was active against those polluting the environment.

He said that two years ago a large number of oil extractors were operating in the city but with the efforts of the EPA now just a few factories were left. “These factories are still operating because they have taken stay orders from the courts,” he added.

The DO claimed that the department had seized machinery of such oil extracting units in the past and imposed fines on them. He said that since the EPA had started a drive against used-tyres on account of dengue, oil extraction business had reduced, with almost no availability of used-tyres.

Besides, illegal oil extracting units operate in the absence of standard safety measures which may cause a mishap or industrial accident any time.


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