Ranipet is a medium sized town located about 100 miles upstream from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A factory in Ranipet manufactures sodium chromate, chromium salts and basic chromium sulfate tanning powder used locally in the leather tanning process. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TN PCB) estimates that about 1,500,000 tons of solid wastes accumulated over two decades of plant operation are stacked in an open yard (three to five meters high and on 2 hectares of land) on the facility premises and contaminating the groundwater.
In a residential colony about 1 kilometer from the factory, three open wells, a dozen bore wells and about 25 public hand pumps have been abandoned due to high chromium levels in the water. The potentially affected people are estimated around 3,500,000. There is widespread fear that if this pollution is left unchecked, the Palar basin, the main drinking water source in the region, could also be contaminated.
In 1996 the government shut down Tamil Nadu Chromates & Chemicals Limited (TCC), the factory responsible for an estimated 1.5 million tons of untreated chromate sludge. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board authorities have assigned the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to design and implement remediation plans to cleanup this site.