Update 190421 – We have now added a form to the website to enable residents to record their experiences with us in addition to the Environment Agency. Please click HERE for more details.
We have also emailed the EA with our concerns (following the telephone conversation as detailed below) about what happened on 150421 and what we understand is scheduled as the next test/clean on the 3rd line/chimney on 200421. Please click HERE to view email.
We have heard from a lot of residents about how the odour/emission incident on 15/04/21 affected them and their families.
Thank you to all the residents that reported this to the Environment Agency via their incident reporting line. We would encourage all incidents to be reported by all that are affected on each occasion.
We will shortly be adding an emissions database page to the BACI website to enable residents to register their reports to the EA with BACI – so we can keep a track on numbers and locations without relying on the EA records.
The topography of the Vale and the weather conditions will have probably contributed to the concentrations of the emissions locally – and is a hint of what is to come in the future.
In some ways the emissions having an odour on this occasion meant that we were at least aware of what was happening. The product of ‘normal’ waste Incineration and the nano-particles that cause the most damage when inhaled – will mostly be invisible and odourless.
We are aware of residents concerns about what actually happened on this occasion and if it will be reoccurring – and using our links via the Community Liaison Panel BACI has spoken direct with the EA about the incident and the next steps.
Telephone Conversation Nicola Ryan-Raine (BACI) with Louise Greenwood Team Leader, Installations Cambs & Beds (Environment Agency)
- The EA attended the site and stated there was an ‘acrid smell’ but did not have equipment to ascertain what the composition of the pollutant was.
- Incident is believed to be caused by the heating of the cladding during testing of Line/Chimney 2 – which has now been concluded.
- Line/Chimney 1 was tested in the same why last week without incident.
- EA admitted that odour can be a factor at this stage of the commissioning – however – HZI’s letter to residents re what expect during commissioning does not mention odour.
- EA will now conduct an investigation using Covanta provided Data Sheets and information gathered from other EA regulated Incinerators.
- No timescale for Report committed to – could be end of next week.
- 3rd Line/Chimney is due to be tested in same way shortly.
- BACI asked that EA ensure that Covanta/HZI delay test until EA investigation is complete.
- BACI asked that the report included the full composition of the discharge and the official limits for both adults and children for the chemicals concerned.
LG confirmed that Emma D’Avilar had attended the site in response to the reports from a number of residents on the evening of 16/04/21.
ED had also spoken to (I believe) a representative from Covanta at this time.
ED was unavailable and not back in the office until 19th April.
LG had some notes of what had occurred but was reluctant to give many details until ED had done a full report – however – LG did say that ED had said that there was an ‘acrid smell’.
LG confirmed that the incident had occurred when the new cladding had been warmed in the boiler line of line/chimney 2.
I told LG that one resident had quoted ED as stating that the odour was ‘unacceptable’. This statement was neither confirmed or rejected by LG.
I asked for reassurance that this test had been stopped and LG confirmed that the EA did not need to stop the test as it had already concluded.
LG confirmed that line/chimney 1 had been subjected to the same test/conditions last week without incident therefore they were not sure why line/chimney 2 reacted differently.
ED did not have the facility to ascertain the composition of the discharge in the air when she attended the area.
I asked if any evidence would now be left to be able to ascertain the composition of the portion of the cladding that had potentially been burned off. LG stated that the report would rely on Data Sheets from Covanta about this.
I asked how the data on the Covanta provided ‘Data Sheets’ would be verified as accurate by the EA.
LG stated that ED would draw information from other EA regulated Incinerators around the country to see what the usually cladding is.
I asked how many of the other regulated Incinerators had been built by Hitachi Zosen Inova. LG said none in her region but she didn’t know about the whole of England. We believe that there are none in England – the nearest one being Covanta Dublin (not under the EA’s regulation).
I pointed out that the pandemic should also be considered in this point – as HZI may have sourced materials from suppliers and/or areas they don’t usually use.
I asked how long the report and conclusions would take. LG was not clear on this point but maybe the end of next week.
I asked if ED would have other support to complete the report and was told she would have a combustion specialist with her.
I expressed concern that the 3rd line/chimney had yet to be tested and that the same incident could re-occur.
I asked when the 3rd line/chimney was due to be tested but LG did not know.
I asked for reassurance that the 3rd line/chimney would not be tested until conclusions had been formed from ED’s investigation and report.
LG was not reassuring on this point and implied that Covanta had a timetable to keep up.
I said it would be unacceptable for the EA to not stop the testing on the 3rd line/chimney until it could be proved that incident would not reoccur.
LG did not commit to any intervention from the EA. I asked why were they bothering to investigate if they were not going to act on any of their findings.
No meaningful answer was given to this point – however – LG did state that odour was possible at this stage of the commissioning.
I referred LG to a letter sent to residents from HZI concerning what to expect during commissioning – that mentions water vapour and steam blowing noises. At no point did HZI mention odour.
I have included the most relevant quotes from the letter below.
“Some of the steps involved in commissioning are likely to result in activities which could be seen or heard by the
local community outside of our site boundary”
“This may result in a plume of water vapour being visible from the main chimney stack”
“During this time, residents living closest to the site may hear a noise similar to rushing air”
Full Letter can be viewed HERE
LG expressed disappointment that HZI had not been more detailed with residents about what to expect. LG stated that the EA had tried to encourage them to have better communication with the residents – but that the EA is not in a position to force them to do so.
I explored this point further and was told that the same applies to communication from Covanta. LG stated that it is not a permit requirement.
I left the conversation by reminding LG that this is an opportunity for the EA to inspire some confidence in the residents that the EA are the regulators and have control over the whole Covanta situation. They can go some way to proving this by ensuring the test on the 3rd line/chimney does not take place until their investigations are complete.
I pointed out it would be unacceptable to subject residents to the same pollution event as experienced yesterday – knowing that it will occur.
LG stated that the commissioning has to happen.
I commented that if it is proved by the EA investigation that the test has a human health issue attached – ‘it has to happen’ is not the correct response by the publicly funded EA.
HZI have issued a response to the Covanta Rookery Pit website – stating “Hot commissioning can create initial short-term odours for approximately one day when each of the three boiler lines are firstly heated up as part of the process to clean them.”
One full day odours on possibly 3 different occasions we would have thought would have merited a mention in their letter to residents.
HZI claim that the emissions were “They are short-term and are not harmful to people or the environment.” However – the lack of transparency on this incident has not inspired trust or confidence and we look forward to – what should be – a detailed analysis of the content of the emissions by the EA.
HZI’s full response can be viewed HERE.