The Milford Haven Port Authority (MHPA) has made an application to Natural Resources Wales for an environmental permit to operate a waste storage and transfer station at Pembroke Dock.
The Authority wants to allow businesses using the port to temporarily store waste on site, in the form of baled RDF and SRF and loose processed wood waste.
Pembroke Port is a secure deep water cargo port on the UK’s west coast, specialising in the transportation of break bulk, dry bulk and project cargoes.
Permit documents submitted for consideration by Natural Resources Wales indicate that the Authority is seeking permission for the storage of up to 60,000 tonnes of refuse derived fuel, 5,000 tonnes of solid derived fuel, and 15,000 tonnes of wood at the site annually.
Four dedicated temporary storage areas would be used, the permit document notes. And, when loading or unloading vessels, waste would also be temporarily stored at the quayside.
MHPA says although it will have “no direct influence” over the quality of the materials being used to process the waste fuels, it recognises that these factors can “significantly alter” the risks to the environment during storage.
However, contractual discussions and arrangements with perspective customers will involve site audits and consideration of the types of waste being processed, the organic carbon content, and the wrapping used, amongst other factors.
In addition to the technical aspect, MHPA said it will also seek written assurance regarding the onward contractual arrangements with offtakers.
Natural Resources Wales will now begin a six-week consultation on the plans with residents, businesses and other experts including Mid West and Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Public Health Wales, Pembrokeshire Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board.
Andrea Winterton, operations manager from NRW said: “The Milford Haven Waterway, as well as being a key hub for the energy industry, is a rich habitat for wildlife, and part of the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation.
“We will only grant a permit if we are confident that the company has the right plans and measures in place to run the site without causing harm to local people or the environment.
“Our experts will now begin their assessment, but local knowledge is incredibly valuable to us. All comments we receive as part of our consultation will be considered when it comes to making our decision.”
The Port of Milford Haven, in Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales, is one of the leading UK ports handling over 30 million tonnes of cargo annually.
Under the plans, wrapped and sealed bales of refuse, principally packaging and non-recyclable plastic waste, will be delivered to the port by road from local authority depots around the country, before being loaded onto ships, MHPA said.
Project manager Chris Oliver from the Port of Milford Haven said the deal could see around 30,000 bales shipped each year from the Port to destinations around Europe, where it would be burned to generate electricity and heat.
“It is the contract between us and the supplier that determines content, but we would endeavour to only except waste with low % or no organic matter. Of course it needs to be combustible, so commercial waste content will primarily be packaging etc.”
Mr Oliver said that until the authority obtains the license it will not be able to say definitively from where the waste will be coming.
“We understand there were concerns expressed about an operation run by waste company Potters handling RDF in Pembroke Port back in 2017,” he said. “However, our project takes delivery of wrapped and sealed bales, assembles them on the yard and then ships them out. We have done extensive research into this process, including site visits, and will be adopting best practice as recommended by the experienced handlers with whom we’ve met.”
“As a Port we can play a crucial role in handling and shipping materials vital to the day-to-day functioning of the nation. That’s what we are here for.”
[Updated 25/04/2019 to include comments from MHPA]