It simply isn’t possible to stop all of the dangerous emissions from coming out, which is why they had to increase the heights of the two chimneys from 85 metres to 95 metres (311 ft). (1)
This was done because the South London Incinerator is being built in an air quality management area where the pollution in the surrounding area is already too high. The taller chimneys are meant to spread the emissions further away – wherever the wind blows.
The incinerator is allowed to exceed emission limits for up to four hours at a time before it is shut down. (2)
There is nothing to stop them breaching emission levels for 3 hours and 59 minutes over and over again every day.
In fact, it is expected that problems will occur and emission limits will be breached “particularly during the commissioning phase” (3).
“From time to time, any industrial facility is likely to experience a process malfunction, which could result in an increase in emissions.” (4)
And how long are they permitted to keep operating for if there is a malfunction or breakdown of the abatement equipment? (5)
72 hours. That’s three days of pumping out completely unfiltered and highly toxic emissions.
Even if you believe that the incinerator, when operating normally, is completely safe; there is plenty of opportunity for it to continue operating even when it is not.
The company running the incinerator (Viridor) are the ones who monitor the emissions and they only have to report the results once a year. (6)
One waste Incinerator in Dumfries, Scotland, breached emission limits more than 200 times from 2009 until July 2013 when it burned down.
The South London Incinerator is allowed to break the CO2 targets set by the London Mayor without any action being taken.
(1) 6.70 pg 70
(2) pg 2 bottom of para 4: “The Environment Agency representative explained that if monitoring showed that emissions levels exceeded the values in the European Union Waste Incineration Directive the operator of the facility would have to rectify the matter within four hours or close the facility.”
(3) A12 Pg 10: “As with any new industrial scale facility, some issues with the process may be expected to occur, particularly during the commissioning phase.”
(4) A32 Pg13: “From time to time, any industrial facility is likely to experience a process malfunction, which could result in an increase in emissions. From time to time, any industrial facility is likely to experience a process malfunction, which could result in an increase in emissions. For waste incineration facilities, the WID/IED sets out specific limits on emissions during process breakdowns. Articles 14, 37, 46 and 47 of the Industrial Emissions Directive contain specific requirements regarding limits on operations under process malfunction conditions.”
(5) Article 37 Malfunction or breakdown of the abatement equipment
MemberStates shall ensure that provision is made in the permits for procedures relating to malfunction or breakdown of the abatement equipment.
In the case of a breakdown, the competent authority shall require the operator to reduce or close down operations if a return to normal operations is not achieved within24 hours, or to operate the plant using low polluting fuels.
The operator shall notify the competent authority within 48 hours after the malfunction or breakdown of the abatement equipment.
(6) Article 14 D
An obligation to supply the competent authority regularly, and at least annually, with:
(i) information on the basis of results of emission monitoring…
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