Industrial Waste - been passed by local County

(40 Posts)
WelshMoth Fri 30-Nov-12 09:24:26

Sorry - can't think of any other way to word this title, but AIBU to feel very uncomfortable about this?

We live in a town which has an Industrial works - been there for absolute decades. Employs a load of local families, does a lot for the community etc.

I've just read in our Community Magazine, a letter sent in to the Editor, by a member of the public. He has named himself (so not signed as anonymous).

In the letter he asks whether the people of this community are a aware that this Company are planning on emitting a pollutant called 2.3.7.8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCCD) which toxic and is a carcinogenic. Apparently, it's already been passed as fit by our County Council and they are now only awaiting consent from the Environment Agency before starting work.

No one in my family (there are lots of us spread around this town) or immediate group of friends and neighbours are aware of this - NEVER heard it mentioned before. AIBU to have expected at least a Public Notice of this application?

Does anyone know what I could be doing to at least find out more about this? I don't like what I've googled so far I must admit.

WelshMoth Fri 30-Nov-12 23:52:18

Dr Snowman. I can't thank you enough for your input. My last post crossed with yours so huge apologies for sounding a bit glib. I'll contact Environmental Wales on Monday, also the company itself.

Your post is heaped with info - I'll get back to you and Jins with any updates. Huge thanks again smile

Jins Sat 01-Dec-12 09:52:53

I can't find the planning application documents online but the draft variation notice is here
www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Research/Draft_Variation_Notice%283%29.pdf

It's a closed vessel pyrolysis plant with a system of scrubbers to remove pollutants from exhaust gases. It does seem that the predictions are well within safety guidelines and the system itself has all the safeguards you'd expect for this type of development.

That doesn't mean that a worst case scenario can't happen of course and the information that DrSnowman suggests you obtain will form part of the submitted details for consideration. There will be a risk assessment identifying every potential pollutant and how risk will be managed.

I deal with this sort of development fairly regularly and the improvement in the systems to scrub exhaust gases have improved dramatically in recent years with automated shutdowns working well and constant monitoring of emissions by the plant and the EA taking place. Accidental emissions are my main concern and you need to know what level of dioxin would be emitted if the plant wasn't functioning properly, how soon an automatic shut down would occur and what is the procedure for manual shutdown if system failure occurs.

Also don't focus on just this one pollutant. Combustion of plastics results in a wide range of pollutants and RDF contains organic material as well to get the burn temperature right. See if you can get a list of the expected exhaust gas components

DrSnowman Sat 01-Dec-12 11:22:27

Thanks Jins,

The draft document was rather interesting reading, from the general discussion of the whole process it sounds like a Mond plant. I thought that the big Mond plant in Wales was south of the M4 near the coast.

You are right that dioxin is not the only substance to keep an eye on, the report did mention SO2, NOX and metals. I suspect that of those three that the metals are the one which the locals should pay the most attention to.

Jins Sat 01-Dec-12 11:38:12

This is the Mond I believe.

It's fairly well tested technology and the report says all you'd expect it to say. I'd like to see the raw data and the RA but I can't find anything online. I suppose in pollution potential it's not a million miles from coal fired systems, especially with the low grade coal that's available nowadays.

I'd like to see evidence relating to background pollution levels as the potential for uncontrolled emissions, particularly to water, will have been present for many years. The refinery has been going since 1902 and pollution control wasn't top of the list back then. Obviously if there's high levels of background pollution then risks are higher with the new process but it's hard to tell from the draft what is actually going on

GrimAndHumourlessAndEven Sat 01-Dec-12 11:46:21

I have no interest in the case but BLIMEY at the level of knowledge evidenced by MNers (and DrSnowman too, you are v kind to take time and trouble to advise)

MN rocks, it really does

DrSnowman Sat 01-Dec-12 15:51:08

I would second that, I would so like to get a soil sample in the following way from the site if it is soft soil. Get a length of PVC pipe, sharpen one end and then bang it in with a hammer.

Next wiggle it and pull out a core sample, then I would love to cut it into 2 cm slices and then get the metal content on each slice, it would be interesting to get a graph of metal content vs depth.

I think that a soil sample like that could keep me busy for weeks in the lab.

WelshMoth Sun 02-Dec-12 18:16:48

DrSnowman, are you serious? One of my walks takes me right to through Mond 'land' - they've donated part of it to one of the National Cycle tracks. I could get a sample...

DrSnowman Sun 02-Dec-12 19:46:38

I think it was just wishful thinking, in the ideal world I would be able to investigate anything and everything which took my interest. But sadly there are a few problems.

1. Any results I obtain for the core sample would be worthless in court as I do not hold the cerificates for anaylsis of samples.
2. I am not sure if my employer would be happy about me devoting time and chemicals to the examination of samples.
3. I would have to give out my real world identity, the thing is as long as I stay as DrSnowman I can tell people about things (like what questions to ask) with zero fear of anyone making any retaliation against me.

The idea of the core sample which goes deep into the ground is to try to find out the history of the site. For the protection of the public the top layer is the most important layer unless you are getting drinking water from the site or eating anything grown on the site.

If you are interested in the metal contamination on the site then the first thing to do might be to file a freedom of information request with the local authority. Be careful the FOI request is very much like dealing with an evil genie, you have to word it very carefully or else you will get no real answer. I would ask the local authority if they have any records for metal contamination in the soil at that site. You never know they might have already examined the site.

Djembe Sun 02-Dec-12 19:51:55

<also amazed at amazing MNers and their DHes>

WelshMoth Sun 02-Dec-12 21:11:36

DrSnowman, I'm humbled by yours and Jins advice on this.

I'm confused though. Tonight, I spoke to a local Councillor, who first told me that even though the company had followed the correct route for making this public (and that there hadn't been much public opposition for it which is incredibly disappointing), the company had actually decided to shelve the idea in favour of trying to recoup it's funds through land-sale, property sale etc.

He phoned me back 10 mins ago though, having spoken to a colleague on the Council who advised him that not only had the City Council approved it, but Environment Agency Wales have already given the go ahead too.

To say I'm gutted is an understatement. Gutted that the community surrounding this stack hasn't had a chance to oppose in a public forum, or failing that, at least a chance to put it in writing/petition form to present at the council. This, I've learnt, would have been enough for Council to have given it reconsideration. But, it's too late now. Nickle prices are at an all time low, so this company is looking at another income. It's a reality and it's happening and there's nothing I can do about it.

WelshMoth Sun 02-Dec-12 21:22:16

I've still filed a FOI though.

WelshMoth Sun 02-Dec-12 21:34:46

<on a rant>

No one has said a word in protest about this, yet the public outcry around here against the Windfarms has been huge.

<frustrated>

Catsize Sun 02-Dec-12 22:52:52

Dr Snowman, you made me laugh. 'I am FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda's husband'. I, Dr Snowman, take you FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda....' Etc.

Must take ages to introduce her to people.

A light-hearted bit in a serious issue. Good luck!

FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda Sun 02-Dec-12 23:00:37

grin

Jins Mon 03-Dec-12 10:06:50

It appears to have been a delegated decision which does surprise me as I'd have thought this would have been an obvious one for a Committee decision. If it has been publicised correctly, and this is the responsibility of the company and the council to some extent, then there has been the opportunity for the public to get involved. I can't explain why there hasn't been more widespread public objection.

The EA haven't already given it the go ahead - it's still out to consultation although not for long. They are minded to approve the variation but haven't yet done so. Valid representations will have to be considered. You can still raise an objection although I'm not sure whether it will make a difference based on the evidence I've read so far.

Please try not to worry. The fact that it's gone through so smoothly does seem to indicate that there aren't any major concerns about public health issues.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now