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.”

3 Responses to Incinerator Emissions Breaches Caused Partly By Overloading And Not Separating Plastics

  1. john dawson August 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    While not wishing this on anyone, we have a local cement works who are given a grant to use recycled waste to heat their kiln which often results in large areas and cars being covered in dust and one only wonders what gases are emitted. The irony is it is not our wasted they are getting rid of but waste brought in from other councils many miles away who have refused to have incinerators

  2. Mark Prebble August 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Mr James comments and plaudits for a manager with experience and the basic knowledge that waste burns better when shredded are to be endorsed and his ability to embed a new culture amongst the staff is to be applauded. They also come as evidence that the previous management of the incinerator was not only woefully inadequate but also that officers of the council may well have fostered a culture of denial.

    That the staff at the incinerator and the wider community are now afforded a higher level of protection against discharge of pollutants to the atmosphere through effective management and better understanding of the processes involved is most welcome and dare I say it, long overdue.

  3. Ray Wornes August 6, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Having been accused of being alarmist on environmental pollution at a public meeting in April, I would like to remind those concerned that I provided information on incinerator toxins at a meeting with the whole of this community’s administration via an experienced toxicologist in about 1993 which condemned the incinerator for its highly toxic emissions. We should bear in mind that the incinerator never got its filtration system until around 1997, nearly 20 years after operations began and the control of the level of plastics input appears to have only lately been understood by officers. Testing once every 6 months means that the incinerator could have been emitting high levels of toxins for long periods of time. The denial of the true situation regarding toxins over 35 years, especially in the area of the schools has been irresponsible.