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The Effectiveness Of Incineration In The Uk Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1046 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Incineration is a waste treatment technology that involves the combustion of organic materials and/or substances, incineration of waste materials converts the waste into incinerator bottom ash, flue gases, particulates, and heat which can be used to generate electric power (Jacqueline, et al 2007). According to Long (2006), incineration of waste is beneficial to the reduction of waste. Long listed two main advantages of waste incineration, first one is that it reduces the volume of municipal solid waste by about 90% and the second is that it reduces the reactivity of this material by the nearly complete destruction of all organic compounds contained. However, the incineration of municipal solid waste residues presents some problems, mainly with the presence of bottom ash and fly ash, as fly ash contains significant amounts of toxic elements like Zinc, Copper, lead, and some organic pollutants such as dioxins and furans (Kato, et al 2007).

This essay is focused on the role and effectiveness of the main institutions involved in incineration in UK and the framework for implementing appropriate interventions, and also the mitigation that has occurred by the activities of the main institutions.

Due to the need to prevent or reduce as far as possible the pollution to air, land, and water by incineration and co incineration in Europe, the European Community introduced a Waste Incineration Directive (2000/76/EC) to member states (Europa, 2008).

In England and Wales, the EC Directives on Waste Incineration entered into force on December 28, 2002, but currently, the EC Directives is implemented through the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/3538) that entered into force on 6th April 2008 (Pollution control handbook, 2009). The Environmental Agencies in England and Wales are responsible for regulating part A (1) installations while the Local Authorities are responsible for regulating the part A (2) installations (OPSI, 2007).

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Under part A (1) installations, operators are required to apply for permit to Environmental Agencies, the application of permit by operators must include the name of the individual or company and address, the site’s name and address, a map or plan showing site’s boundary highlighted in green (except in the case of a mobile plant), a referee, the ability of the operator (technical skills and details of any relevant conviction) and also the activities that the regulated facility would carry out (type of waste intended to treat and the capacity of the plant). The Environmental agency has the duty to either grant the permit if all requirements are meet or reject the application if it is not satisfactory (EA, 2009). If a permit is granted, the operator is responsible for monitoring emission and supplying the Environmental Agency with data required to check compliance with permit (OPSI, 2007). Under part A (2) installations, the local authorities are responsible for regulating the activities and also granting a permit. Operators of part A (2) installations are required to apply for a permit to local authorities (EA, 2009). It is the duty of the regulators (Environmental Agency and Local Authority) to undertake independent monitoring and inspection of the installations to check compliance with the set emissions limits, if the operator is breaching the conditions set by the permit, the regulator has the right/power to revoke the environmental permit either in whole or in part (EA, 2009).

Due to the strict policy and effectiveness of the Environmental Agencies and Local Authorities regarding incineration in UK, there has been great reduction in pollution to air, land, and water from waste incineration plants (Rushton, 2003). The insistence by Environmental Agency and Local Authority that operators of incineration plants must use Best Available Technologies (BATs) lead to advances in emission control designs (Dyke et al, 2003).

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Majority of old United Kingdom municipal waste incinerators closed, leaving only few incinerators with improved air pollution abatement equipment (Davy, 2004). There has been great advancement in technology of incinerator plants, a technology by ‘W.L Gore and associate’ that actually destroys dioxins was produced and is in use, the technology combines the fabric filtration (collection of particulate matter) with catalytic destruction of dioxins (Stehlik, 2009). Wet scrubbing equipment suitable for municipal and industrial waste incineration plants has been developed and in use for modern incinerator (Fillip et al, 2005).

There have been situations where Environmental Agencies took operators of waste incineration plants to court for failing to meet environmental permit and enforcement notice conditions (ENDs Report, 2009). Such situation occurred when Environmental Agency took a clinical waste company (White Rose Environmental Ltd) to court over failure to meet environmental permit and enforcement notice conditions for a hospital clinical waste incinerator, the court (Maidstone crown court) fined the company GBP 20,000 and GBP 13,000 for failure to meet environmental permit and enforcement notice (ENDs Report, 2009). According to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs report in 2007, emissions from waste incineration in United Kingdom reduced dramatically with a 99.8% reduction in emission from 1990 levels. United Kingdom Health Protection Agency also concluded in 2009 that the introduction of modern, well managed incinerators in United Kingdom has reduced the local concentration of air pollution (HPA, 2009).

In summary, the Environmental Agencies and Local Authorities (main institutions in dealing with incineration in United Kingdom) has achieved a lot through effective monitoring and making sure that operators of waste incineration plants comply with Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007. Their effectiveness lead to a great reduction in emission from waste incinerator plants (DEFRA, 2007), old UK waste incinerator plants that could not maintain the requirements for operations were shut down, and also it lead to advances in the technology of waste incineration plants.


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