Incinerator Emissions Breaches Caused Partly By Overloading And Not Separating Plastics

incineratorHigh levels of toxic chemicals emitted from the Council’s waste incinerator at Moorwell were partly caused by overloading the plant and not separating plastics from the rubbish.

Between April 2010 and December 2012, data show that the facility routinely breached safe limits for emissions of dioxins, hydrochloric acid, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request from the Environment Agency describe how an external Process Engineer, Mike Hession was brought in from waste consultants SLR to try to identify the problems during November 2011.

In May 2012, following a series of tests, he reported that the incinerator was being ‘over-fed’ with rubbish. Metal plates have subsequently been welded into the grabber arm to reduce the volume by 10%.

He also found that waste baled on some off-islands and transported to Moorwell, had significantly higher levels of plastics and glass.

He suggested removing some of the plastic and shredding the waste before incineration.

Following operational changes and Mr Hession’s appointment as Compliance Manager for the plant earlier this year, emission levels are now below the permitted levels.

In a statement, Chief Technical Officer Neville Gardner denied that suitable expertise hadn’t been available to manage the plant, which was built in 1976.

He said it had been supported by “many talented engineers” over the course of its life and the range of inputs reflected both the changing legislation and the changing character of the waste.

He added that people visiting the site in an engineering or scrutiny capacity have been complimentary about the professionalism and skill of the plant operators.

Following a site visit in April this year, Chris James from the Environment Agency sent an email to SLR complementing Mr Hession on doing “an excellent job of improving the plant while keeping the staff on board and embedding a new culture.”

Mr James went on to say, “there is still a long way to go to completely resolve the waste and other environmental issues on the islands,” adding that he was “confident that we are improving and safeguarding the environment of the people who live there.”

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