25 March 2021 by Robyn White

NRW updates permits for some waste plants  

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) had said it has reviewed 36 environmental permits for waste treatment installations, to “ensure they are performing to the highest environmental standards”.

AD plants will now be required to make improvements to secondary containment measures

The Welsh regulator carried out reviews into permits covering  a “wide range of technologies” such as heat treatment for hazardous clinical wastes, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) processes and the recovery of end-of-life fridges.

It comes off the back of the EU Best Available Techniques Reference Document (BREF), published in August 2018, which requires existing installations to comply to new measures within four years.

NRW confirmed that the permits have now been re-issued with updated conditions.

An additional five permits within the sector were not included in the review because they had either recently closed or are due to close imminently.

AD

New conditions for AD sites include “improvements to secondary containment measures and additional requirements for monitoring and controlling of key waste and process parameters”.

NRW says this will help to ensure stability in the digester and reduce the potential of odour nuisance and provide an early warning of any system failure, thereby reducing risk of explosions and loss of containment.

Sites that accept and recover end of life fridges will have a tighter limit for releases because of the CFCs that arise from the process.

Significant investment

Holly Noble, permitting team leader from NRW said: “Our environmental permits set conditions for how a facility must operate and limits for the emissions it can make, but that’s not where the process ends.

“It’s an important exercise for us to complete, allowing us to drive improvements”

Holly Noble, permitting team leader, NRW

“Not only will each site be closely regulated by our officers, but they also have to stay on top of the latest technological developments and strive towards improving their environmental performance.

“In some cases this requires companies making significant investment in their infrastructure, which we appreciate may not be easy during such uncertain times. But it’s an important exercise for us to complete, allowing us to drive improvements and bring all waste treatment installations to up a consistent level across Wales.”

Requirements

All plants are required to use the best techniques for preventing or minimising emissions and impacts on the environment.

Techniques can include both the technology used and the way an installation is designed, built, maintained, operated and decommissioned.

Measures

It follows the recent publication of the Welsh Governments recycling strategy ‘beyond recycling’, that sets out a number of ways to reduce harmful emissions.

This includes a moratorium on any new energy from waste (EfW) plants, which became effective immediately following the strategy’s publication (see letsrecycle.com story).

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