Permit review exercise focuses on waste treatment sector

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Thirty-six environmental permits for waste treatment installations have been reviewed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and upgraded to ensure they are performing to the highest environmental standards.

Large facilities using a wide range of technologies to treat waste are included in the review - such as heat treatment to sterilise hazardous clinical wastes, biological Anaerobic Digestion (AD) processes and the recovery of end of life fridges. Where improvements have been identified, this will lead to enhanced environmental performance and reduced emissions.

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

The exercise involves reviewing permits against the latest industry best practice – the EU Best Available Techniques Reference Document (BREF).

It is a requirement of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and ensures that all plants continue 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.

The permits have now been re-issued with updated conditions that will improve the environment management systems held at sites providing a higher level of environmental performance with a commitment of continuous improvement. Sites that accept and recover end of life fridges will have a tighter limit for releases of the harmful pollutant CFCs.

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.

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.
“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.”

The EU Best Available Techniques Reference Document (BREF) was published on 17 August 2018 in the Official Journal of the European Union.  Existing installations have four years to comply, whereas new installations must comply right away.

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