Energos Isle of Wight plant fails further emissions tests

By Chris Sloley 

The Environment Agency has once again closed the Energos' gasification plant on the Isle of Wight after it failed further dioxin emissions tests, letsrecycle.com can reveal.

The £8 million plant, which is operated by Energos' sister company Waste Gas Technology, was originally closed in May after breaching emissions limits following routine Environment Agency tests on dioxin emission levels (see letsrecycle.com story).

Operations at the Energos facility on the Isle of Wight have again been ceased after it was originally closed in March due to emission breaches
Operations at the Energos facility on the Isle of Wight have again been ceased after it was originally closed in March due to emission breaches
And, after reopening for one week in August to undertake further tests, the plant was closed again after the Agency said it found a non-compliant level of emissions.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency told letsrecycle.com: “It did reopen briefly between the August 15 and 21 but further testing within that period found that the results were non-compliant and the emissions were still in breach.”

Since issuing an enforcement notice to Waste Gas Technology in June 2010, the Environment Agency has worked with the firm and Energos to develop a proposal for restarting operations at the gasification facility at Forest Road, Newport.

The spokeswoman added: “We discussed a plan with the company [after it was closed] and it reopened in accordance with that plan. However, testing that took place on the August 20 and 21 showed that the emissions breached the permitting levels, so the operator had to cease to process waste.

“And, since then, we are in discussions with the operator, and we are still discussing this at this present time,” she said. “There is no expected time of when it will reopen.”

Reduction

Energos, which is part of Manchester-based renewable energy group ENER-G, confirmed in a statement issued to letsrecycle.com that waste treatment operations at the Isle of Wight site remain suspended. However, it insisted that the dioxin levels found in the additional testing were “not a consequence of the Energos gasification system”.

The company said alterations to the Isle of Wight facility had been made after the “abnormal” emissions levels recorded earlier this year and, despite improved performance, the results still showed a breach of permitted levels.

A spokeswoman said: “New high specification filters have been specially manufactured and installed, and the control of the system modified both to ensure that the abnormal operation does not arise in future and to monitor the operation of the filter system more closely.

“Following this work, further tests have shown that filter performance has been greatly improve, but initial dioxin tests completed over a 48 hours period when the plant briefly resumed operation, showed results of 0.23 and 0.31ng/Nm3. This is similar to tests carried out before the filter was replaced.”

The gasification plant is used to treat residual waste from the Isle of Wight to produce renewable electricity
The gasification plant is used to treat residual waste from the Isle of Wight to produce renewable electricity
Energos said that it was confident that improvements to the filtration system and the flue gas treatment system would prove effective. The company is currently consulting with the Agency and scientific advisers to agree further testing and investigation into the plant.

Development of the Isle of Wight plant was undertaken within the now-completed New Technologies Demonstrator Programme. Defra provided £2.7 million of the start-up costs for the plant, money which was used to help convert some existing infrastructure at the Forest Road site.

Residual waste for treatment is supplied to the site by Island Waste Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of waste management firm Biffa. Island Waste Services has a long-term contract to deliver waste services to the 61,000 households on the Isle of Wight.

Council

The Isle of Wight council, which has no direct contractual relationship with Energos, acknowledged the ongoing issues with the gasification plant at a meeting of its full council last week (September 22).

In a report to the council, councillor Edward Giles, cabinet member for environment, said: “The gasification plant operated by Energos at Forest Road was shut down in May when routine monitoring established that there was a breach in the level of dioxin emissions.

“Energos' efforts to solve the problem have not reduced the level of dioxin emissions sufficiently and the Environment Agency has directed that the plant remains closed.”

Cllr Giles repeated a statement made in August that actions had been taken by the council to reduce the impact of costs of the closure and said it is being partly offset by a cost sharing arrangement negotiated with Island Waste Services. The council said it was hopeful that the plant would be reopened in November. 

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