Friday, 30 April 2010

NGOs call for gasoil power station

NGOs call for gasoil power station

A number of environment non-governmental organisations have expressed their concern at “the major public health issues” which would result from the emissions of the Delimara Power Station extension.

Friends of the Earth Malta, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Nature Trust (Malta), Ramblers Association Malta, Gaia Foundation and Sahhambjent said in a statement this technology demanded strict monitoring of the operation of the pollution control equipment requiring the added complication and major expense of disposing the hazardous waste.

“This prospect is even more alarming given the Auditor General's revelation that the decision to go ahead with this project was taken in the absence of a contract for the export of the hazardous waste to be produced by the Delimara Power Station extension.”

The NGOs said that export of the waste to a third world country, exposing its inhabitants to toxic effects due to the lack of safety standards, was not a satisfactory solution, given Malta's claims of support for developing countries.

“Even if the system works perfectly, Enemalta itself admits that a logistics failure preventing regular export of the hazardous waste will mean an interruption in power generation, with consequent power cuts as recently experienced.

“The alternative would be to dump the waste in some local out-of-the way site. The risk of grave environmental damage, compounded by our very limited land area, is too high to be acceptable,” the NGOs said.

They said it could not be assumed that local dumping would not be resorted to. This had just happened, albeit on a small scale, in the case of the fly ash from the Marsa precipitators.

“It would seem that MEPA was aware of the Enemalta/Polidano fly ash contract, which had been allowed to run for four years, even though the necessary permits were not in place.

“When MEPA woke up, the Infrastructure Minister reacted in typical fashion by switching off the precipitators, exposing the hapless inhabitants downwind of the Marsa power station to the deposition of black dust.

“MEPA further complicated the saga, pleading a chronic manpower shortage for collecting samples and a national incompetence in carrying out a piece of straightforward analysis.”

The NGOs pointed out that when asked to consider the use of diesel/gasoil instead of heavy fuel oil for the Delimara Power Station extension, the Finance Minister said that there was nothing to prevent the government from doing so other than the higher electricity unit cost due to the price of gasoil.

On the other hand, this higher price could be offset by the fact that expensive collection and export of hazardous waste, with its dangers of power cuts, would not be needed.

The environment NGOs suggested that the government should forget about the pollution removal equipment required for heavy fuel oil (HFO) and use gasoil.

“No contracts for hazardous waste disposal would be required, even if nitrogen oxides removal equipment had to be operated.

“The products in this case would be just water and nitrogen which do not carry the long-term threats to human health of HFO.

“The NGOs maintain that they cannot accept an option which carries a serious threat to public health.

“They therefore ask both sides of the House to agree on a motion requiring Enemalta to use gasoil and not HFO as fuel for the BWSC engines.”