Sepa revokes permit for troubled EfW plant

27th August 2013


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The Scottish regulator is withdrawing an energy-from-waste plant's permit to operate after it "persistently" breached pollution requirements

Scotgen (Dumfries) Limited’s Dargavel energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Dumfries has been subject to two enforcement notices since the start of the 2013, the first following multiple breaches of its pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit in 2012, and the second after a fire in July resulted in 800 tonnes of odorous waste being left on the site.

In issuing a notice of revocation of the site’s PPC permit, which will see operations the plant cease from 23 September, a spokesperson for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said that the site had “failed to meet any reasonable expectation of environmental performance” since it began operating in December 2009.

“The facility started operations more than four years ago, and in that time has never achieved a level of compliance which would give Sepa any degree of confidence that future operation would be any different,” confirmed Ian Conroy, the regulator’s technical support manager in South West Scotland.

“Since the plant come into operation we have provided support and assistance to Scotgen, including affording it considerable time and opportunity to demonstrate that this facility can meet best available techniques, and the specific requirements of European directives designed to protect the environment. Unfortunately despite this, it has not done so.”

In June 2012, the plant was shut down after one of its two waste lines breached emission limit values (ELV) for dioxins and furans, and Sepa demanded improvements were put in place.

However, after the undamaged second line was restarted in September, monitoring equipment revealed that dioxin and furan emissions on 16 October were 40% higher than the 0.1ngm3 limit. Furthermore, Scotgen failed to notify Sepa of the ELV breach within four weeks as it is required to do under its PPC permit. As a result, the regulator issued an enforcement notice in January 2013 requiring the company to demonstrate that monitoring results were being submitted to the regulator within four weeks of sampling.

The following month, Sepa served a variation notice requiring the plant to recover energy with a high level of efficiency by 30 June 2013. And, after a fire at the site on 18 July the plant was issued with a second enforcement notice requiring the removal of 800 tonnes of waste left at the site. The firm has failed to comply with either of these notices.

“The facility has consistently failed to meet any reasonable expectation of environmental performance and the predicted level of energy recovery at approximately 3% is particularly disappointing and unsatisfactory,” said Conroy.

Sepa has now confirmed it is revoking the site’s PPC permit due to “persistent non-compliance”, as well as the operator’s failure to comply with an enforcement notice, maintain resources at a level to ensure compliance with the requirements of the permit, and its failure to recover energy with a high enough level of efficiency.

Scotgen, which describes the Dargavel plant as “Europe’s most-advanced energy-from-waste facility”, can appeal against the revocation notice.

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