Despite the popular misconception, Coca-Cola Beverages has not been granted their Environment Protection License (EPL) yet, Director General of the Central Environment Authority K.H. Muthukudaarachchi affirmed.

Muthukudaarachchi was responding to a query from The Nation with regards to the issuance of the Coca-Cola Beverages EPL which was temporarily suspend the same week the oil leak and subsequent contamination of the Kelani River was reported. The issuance of the EPL even on a temporary basis will enable the factory to resume operations at its Biyagama industrial zone, a move that is now being criticized by several quarters.
“ This institution has not given the EPL back, we’ve only conferred that if and when the company meets the guidelines and criteria set by the CEA, we may consider granting it temporarily,” he said.

The CEA, he said, was forced to suspend the EPL since there was a definite and clear breech of the guidelines set by the regulatory license with reference to their waste management systems.”We can say with certainty that contamination of the Kelani River has been contained. We have also taken samples of the water and have been in constant discussion with the company responsible and its management in order to rectify the issue.”

In the past week alone, the CEA has conducted several field tests, technical inspections and have also gone to the company repeatedly to inspect their waste management system, pipe and drainage as well as its refinery.

“The initial inspection proved that their systems were up in order, however, the EPL will only be granted once the company submits a comprehensive environment audit of its factory and its surroundings,” he said. “If and when the EPL is granted, it will be under strict and direct supervision from the CEA.”

He advised that all companies bordering the Kelani River ensure that they have a self-monitoring system in place in the forms of alarms or notifications to alert the staff of any breech in any of their systems.

“The company will also be required to pay for the damage caused to the environment, the costs incurred by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board to provide clean water to consumers as well as the inconvenience caused to the consumers through their actions,” he said.

According to him, the company has agreed to all conditions stipulated and have informed the CEA in writing of their agreement.