The story of hidden emissions: the case of Sant Adrià de Besós Incinerator.
The municipal waste incinerator in Sant Adrià de Besós, close to the city of Barcelona and adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, was completed in 1975 and developed as a public initiative (its current name is Waste Treatment and Separation Co., Ltd., and Spanish abbreviation TERSA) This is the first large-scale incinerator built in Spain. It is the property of the Barcelona Municipal Government (58.7%) and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (41.3%). The institution is composed of 36 cities around the city and covers 3.2 million residents spread over 636 square kilometers.
It covers an area of 23,000 square meters in a densely populated area, including residential buildings and service facilities (schools, health centers, shopping areas, hotels, etc.). Residential buildings are mostly luxury houses, and residents have higher requirements for environmental quality. Although at the beginning of the building, the area was considered the “backyard” of the metropolitan area; the marginalized population lived in low-quality shacks (Campo de la Bota community) , And then they were forced to move to other nearby communities ("La Mina"). The transformation of the waterfront and the entire neighborhood began to coincide with the 1992 Olympic Games, and the "Cultural Forum" continued in 2004. There are still several housing development projects under construction in the area, such as the “Tres Chimeneas Urban Framework Plan” area.
The plant has an annual incineration capacity of 360,000 tons of municipal waste[i], which is equivalent to a quarter of all municipal waste generated in metropolitan areas. It is equipped with three mobile grate furnaces with water cooling, each capable of processing 15 tons of waste /Hour, and the use of two steam turbines to generate energy recovery, the total power output is 23.7MW. Since 2003, it has also provided heat, steam and hot water for hotels and residential buildings in the neighbouring Forum area (DistriClima).
The original design was to incinerate mixed municipal waste without pre-treatment. In 2006, a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant was built on the land next to the incinerator with a processing capacity of 192,000 tons. Due to this development, theoretically only the residual waste streams from the four MBT factories in Barcelona and surrounding areas (the so-called "eco parks") will be incinerated, because these factories basically separate and recycle by-products-products. As we will see, the reality is completely different.
The initial preventive and corrective measures are few and far apart: electric filters, reduction of sulfur oxides, etc. After the 2000/76/CE directive came into effect on December 4, 2000, the incinerator was forced to retrofit its equipment, which now includes a sleeve filter, a lime milk neutralizer for acid gas, and activated carbon injection. Between 2008 and 2014, the plant underwent a series of upgrades[ii], costing more than 30 million euros to adapt to the new types of waste being incinerated, especially waste with higher heat energy, because it comes from residual waste and unsorted waste. Municipal waste, which means more electricity and steam can be generated.
Now, in 2019, the non-catalytic reduction system of nitrous oxide is being replaced by a more efficient catalytic reduction system, but this is only possible after removing the electric filter, because initially there is no physical space for this kind of replacement . three].
Type and quantity of waste incineration
The plant is authorized to burn 6 types of waste (Integrated Environmental Authorization, IEA):
From waste treatment plant
LER 191212 – Residual waste from mechanical biological treatment of municipal waste, and fuel residue/refining LER 190503 – Substandard biostable composting LER 190604 – Anaerobic digestion of sludge
No prior treatment required
LER 200301-Mixed municipal waste LER 200303-Street cleaning waste LER 200307-Large amount of shredded waste (mainly furniture, mattresses, etc.)
According to their management report, 363,261 tons entered the incinerator in 2016, 368,791 tons in 2017, 358,010 tons in 2018, and most of the codes are 191212. As a result, the maximum authorized capacity was exceeded in 2016 and 2017, and the standard was not met. International Energy Agency.
In 2018, 16.21% (56,000 tons) of waste entering the incinerator was not processed beforehand and therefore did not pass through the MBT plant. It comes from mixed residual waste collected from street and pavement cleaning. A small portion (2,102 tons from Ecopark 1) is even packed in sealed garbage bags (in December 2018, a study of garbage from Ecopark 1 found that 17.7% of garbage was packed in sealed garbage bags). The factory opened.
It should be emphasized that most of the garbage, 85% of the garbage incinerated in 2018 is recyclable (organic matter, plastic, cardboard, textile, metal, glass). Incineration waste contains a large amount of organic matter stabilized in the MBT plant, and 67% of the total waste is biomass. In addition, it contains a large percentage (0.5%) of hazardous waste: electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), pharmaceuticals, sanitary waste, etc., which are not separated before being incinerated.
Emissions and violation of limits
According to the latest data from PRTR National Record [iv], the emissions of Waste Treatment and Separation Co., Ltd. (TERSA) in 2017 are as follows: 331,912 tons of carbon dioxide, 406 tons of nitrogen oxides, 5.378 kg of volatile organic compounds, 24.2 kg of chromium, 16 kg Nickel, 27.5 kg of lead, 16.7 kg of chlorine compounds, 10,482 kg of dust particles. A series of important hazardous pollutants that affect the environment, climate and human health.
Dioxins and furans are continuously inspected, but it is strange that the inspection system does not work when the furnace is ignited or turned off. At this time, the dioxin emissions are higher because of unstable combustion [v]. These emissions are closely related to the amount of combustion gas injected into the combustion gas before passing through the sleeve filter. The quantity used by TERSA is lower than the recommended value for BAT in the December 2018 BREF document [vi]: 0.5-2 kg of activated carbon per ton of waste incineration to achieve an emission value of less than 0.06 ng/m3.
For several weeks (from July 18, 2017 to August 23, 2017), the emission value of dioxins and furans was 0.2 ng/Nm3, which was higher than the limit of 0.1 ng/Nm3, and at that time, it was only 0.15 Activated carbon is consumed per ton of waste incineration. The emission value between 17/10/17 and 10/11/17 is 0.106ng/Nm3, slightly higher than the limit.
In 2018, the limits for the injection of chilled water into the collector and the DQO and AOX parameters [vii] were exceeded. This may be due to the excessive use of chlorine as a biocide to avoid the entry of marine biomass because the water cooling system used is directly taken from the sea arrive.
Environmental impact, violations and complaints from residents
Residents living near the factory are very worried about the potential risks of living near the factory, especially because the area has been affected by other pollution infrastructure (thermal power plants, large sewage treatment plants), busy highways, etc.). These concerns increased in 2017, after a number of scientific studies have shown that the dioxins and furans in the region are worrying [viii], which increases the risk of various diseases. Therefore, local associations and activists jointly established the Metropolitan Residents Coordination Group "Airenet" ("Clean Air"), with the goal of controlling environmental violations in factories and reporting them to local authorities.
These concerns intensified when evidence of abnormal operations of the factory emerged, especially after a serious accident that caused the factory to lose control from July 16 to 17, 2017. Emissions soared, and the factory was closed for several hours. Some testimonies from TERSA employees confirmed this abnormal operation.
1- Temperature T2 seconds-According to European regulations [ix], the temperature of the combustion gas should exceed 850ºC for at least 2 seconds after the last air injection. However, local residents’ internal measurements of this parameter indicate that this temperature is below 850ºC for several hours a year. This raises concerns about the accuracy of the algorithm used by TERSA to calculate this parameter.
2- Occasional emission measurements performed by government agencies under conditions different from normal operating conditions-There is evidence that when external agents perform measurements, operating conditions are adjusted to ensure that the results remain below legal limits. In other words, the operating conditions are manipulated to obtain results that fall within the legal value range. For example, increase the consumption of natural gas to increase the temperature of the combustion gas, increase the flow of primary and secondary air, retain a thick layer of dust in the sleeve filter or increase the consumption of activated carbon at the moment of external measurement. All this is to reduce the value of the measured pollutants. Once the government agency conducts external measurements, it orders the reduction of activated carbon injection