Thursday, December 18, 2008

Four Killed by Biogas in Digester Tank in Philippines

While the biogas from Anaerobic Digestion does mercifully disperse rapidly, terrible accidents can and do happen around the world, as the following post from the Philippines shows:

Biogas tank that killed four in Batangas had no permit


The sanitary inspector of Malvar town in Batangas province has confirmed that FS Lajara Farm in Bagong Pook town has no permit to operate the biogas tank that killed 4 workers Tuesday morning.

Inspector Aldrin Leviste said that the company, owned by former Calamba Mayor Severino Lajara, would be asked to put their biogas operations on hold. They may also be fined for operating such facility without securing the necessary permit.

Leviste said that all biogas operators are required to employ a pollution control officer to guide and monitor the workers. He said it is also essential to impose the use of necessary safety garments such as protective masks and supportive gadgets.

FS Lajara Farm was allegedly not complying with any of the guidelines provided.

Based on the post mortem report suffocation was identified as the cause of death. Health Officer Dr. Luisa Jaurigue said it is also possible the victims were able to ingest pig manure which also caused poisoning.

It was the last day of a two-week contract for workers William Flores, Jovert Catalan, John John Villa and Richard Manahan when they all lost consciousness upon entering the biogas tank that led to their demise. More at CBN News here.

In the EU the ATEX Directive applies safety rules for all explosion risk and dangerous substances sites like biogas digesters/ See ATEX and DSEAR for the UK requirements.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Important UK Defra Meeting with Anaerobic Digestion Interests Announced

Defra to hold second meeting on AD


The minister for waste, Jane Kennedy, is set to meet with the organics recycling industry next week to discuss the best way forward for anaerobic digestion and look at developing a "vision" and strategy to help implement the technology in the UK.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) operators, trade bodies and Defra are to convene on December 18 to talk about the best way to proceed with implementing AD on a wider scale to treat municipal food waste and also encourage more farmers to use the technology.

Jane Kennedy is expected to meet with key figures in the organics recycling industry next week

Jane Kennedy is expected to meet with key figures in the organics recycling industry next week.

Michael Chesshire, a director of the Shropshire-based GreenfinchBiogen, which runs the UK's largest AD plant built to treat food waste, told that attendees would be discussing a proposed "vision and implementation strategy for AD".

The aim of the strategy is to increase the use of AD to treat municipal household waste and also to encourage smaller scale operations to be set up in the agricultural sector. The "vision" is set to be implemented between now and 2020, he explained.

The December 18 discussion will be the second high-level ministerial meeting to be held on AD this year. The first set of talks was held in July.

A spokesman for the Environmental Services Association (ESA), who attended the first meeting, said that the latest summit was being held to "update" the sector about the Government position on AD and to discuss the technology's role in energy generation.

He explained that the July event had addressed the opportunities and challenges in developing an infrastructure for AD in the UK. He said: "While the future for AD appears to be bright, a number of policy uncertainties are seen to be holding back the early adoption of AD around the country."

Currently organic recyclers are waiting to find out how digestate produced by AD will be classified, which affects how it can be used. The Quality Protocol and publicly available specification (PAS110) for digestate, which could reclassify the digestate from 'waste' to 'product', are yet to be released and are not expected to be ready until the New Year.

The ESA spokesman commented: "The willingness of key partners to accept the practice of returning digestate to agricultural land would be essential to the success of AD as a technology."

Mr Chesshire praised WRAP and Defra for their work on the Protocol and PAS110 standard and said he "appreciated what they are doing".

He said both would help AD to progress and added: "It will be a big boost to the industry and will hopefully bring supermarkets into the market and encourage them to buy products from farmers who are using digestate."

Mr Chesshire said he also hoped to discuss a way of incentivising farmers to begin operating AD facilities to treat farm-waste, such as animal slurry.

"Farmers need to be influenced to use the technology" he said, explaining that farmers did not have to worry about paying Landfill Tax in the same way local authorities do and therefore do not have the same impetus to look at different ways to treat their waste.

Feed-in tariffs

The July meeting also found that there was uncertainty among operators about the nature and effect of the feed-in tariffs proposed within the Climate Change Act.

Feed-in tariffs are contracts which smaller energy producers, like AD facilities, can make with energy providers in place of the more complex Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) system, which is intended for use by larger organisations.

The Government only wants small energy producers (5MW or less), to be eligible to use feed-in tariffs and is in the process of setting an energy production cap system. Mr Chesshire said he expected AD operators who produce between 50KW and 5MW of power to be eligible for the simpler feed-in tariffs.

He welcomed the new contract arrangements and said they would be much simpler to use for smaller producers and would be a "boost to the sector".

Mr Chesshire pointed out that Defra has been very supportive of the AD sector so far and said they had done a lot of good work to help the technology progress. He said: "I hope the December meeting helps to move the industry even further along than it is now."


Currently there are few anaerobic digesters built to treat municipal food waste in the UK, although the technology has been used more widely on a small-scale in agriculture to treat wastes like animal slurry.

However, the Government is keen to increase the amount of municipal food waste digesters in the UK and has repeatedly signalled its support for the technology because of its potential to create energy in a sustainable manner.

Defra outlined its support for the technology in the Waste Strategy for England 2007 and said "it has significant environmental benefits over other options to treat food waste". It also stated that the Government wishes to encourage "more consideration of the use of AD both by local authorities and businesses. It has also awarded "double ROCs" to AD facilities.

See full LetsRecycle article.

Anaerobic Digestion Biogas and EU REACH Implemetation

Last week immediately after the UK implementation of the REACH Regulations I found that I had to admit admit ignorance when I received a call in which I was asked whether biogas produced from waste would fall under the REACH regulations.

I was soon reassured by colleagues that all was OK for those, like me that had not even thought of this, and that biogas did not require REACH registration and compliance.

As an Engineer in waste processing I don't have responsibility for legal compliance, and hence this was not a major gap in my knowledge, nevertheless, I did not know of the background until I read Philip Charlesworth's article in the Chartered Institution of Waste Management's monthly journal for this month.

I am sure that Philip will not mind me copying a part of his article below, which hopefully makes the background to all this clear:

In October this year the lead REACH enforcement body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), issued a fact sheet to explain the position on "recovered waste substances". This publication stated that "[waste] recovery businesses are considered to be manufacturers under REACH". A list of waste "recovery" operations is included in the imminent revision of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD).

Registration may be required where a new substance is produced in the manufacturing process. Where a substance has been recovered, or a new substance has been produced, and this is then incorporated into the manufacture of an "article", that “article” may not be caught by REACH.

An article is defined as an “... object which during production is given a special shape, surface or design which determinates its function to a greater degree than does its chemical composition".

This could apply to products made from recycled waste. It follows from Article 7 of REACH that substances contained within the "articles" that are not intended to be released from within the "articles" during use, would not need to be registered (unless the substances are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction).

REACH specifically exempts the following products that have been manufactured from waste substances; compost, biogas, glass and minerals occurring in their natural state.

These exemptions would appear to support the preamble to REACH, which states that incentives for waste recycling and recovery should be maintained. The exemptions also enable the Government to meet the objectives of Article 6 of the revised WFD by continuing to publish quality protocols for "end of waste" materials. Protocols are already available for compost and some aggregate products derived from waste.

The Government must have enforcement of REACH, following the expiry of the 1 December 2008 deadline. This will see the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008 come into force (in accordance with Article 126 of REACH). The leading enforcement body (the "competent authority") is the HSE and it will have powers to take action against "recycling and recovery" operations that may have been required to register.

In England and Wales the HSE will join forces with the Environment Agency, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and local authorities to control the manufacture and placing on the market of articles and substances, protection of the environment and the safety of consumer products from chemical substances.

The European Chemicals Agency intends to publish a list of all the pre-registered substances in January 2009.

CIWM Members can email the CIWM for more information. Non-members requiring more information can contact Philip Charlesworth. I will have to avoid giving his email as it reads for fear of him receiving a lot of spam from this posting from the plague of spambots which continually scrape web pages for email addresses to send spam. I will therefore describe his ema-il address as containing after the @ sign preceded with the word info.

IF you are not already a CIWM member, why not consider applying?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

UK Planning Bill receives Royal Assent Plus Environment and Transport Bills Moved On

Planning Bill receives Royal Assent...

Michael Donnelly, PlanningResource, 27 November 2008

The Planning Bill has completed the legislative process after receiving Royal Assent last night.

The government says the Planning Act 2008 will enable decisions on major infrastructure projects in areas such as energy, aviation, road and rail transport, water and waste to be taken much more speedily than under the current system.

Under the Act ministers will set out National Policy Statements detailing national infrastructure priorities and the decisions as to whether to allow individual projects to go ahead will then be taken independently by a new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

The government will set out a timetable to set-up the IPC and consult on the detailed regulations and NPSs to implement the new system in the New Year.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears said: "Now that the Planning Bill has been given Royal Assent we can begin to create the faster, fairer planning system we need to reduce our fossil fuel addiction and build up a new generation of renewable energy infrastructure sources like wind power. Many low carbon power sources will now get faster approval, and the country could save £300m a year."

Planning Bill minister John Healey added: "The new Planning Act 2008 will bring about real culture change for deciding the future needs of our national infrastructure. Importantly it will also give the public three chances to get their views on proposals across instead of one."

But countryside campaigners the CPRE expressed doubts about how well the Bill will work in practice. Paul Miner, CPRE’s senior planning campaigner commented: "We have monitored the Bill closely throughout its passage through Parliament. Some of it is sensible. But we doubt that its centrepiece – an expensive, unelected, unaccountable commission taking big planning decisions – will work in practice.

"There is a grave danger that this new commission will be seen merely as a promoter and a rubber stamp for highly damaging infrastructure projects imposed without proper debate. It will be interesting to see who steps forward to be a commissioner on this new body, given the challenges it faces."

The government launched the recruitment process for the position of IPC chairman in October. Shortlisting will take place early next year with interviews in spring and appointment in early summer.

...along with new environment and transport bills

Susanna Gillman, PlanningResource, 27 November 2008

A raft of other legislation that will impact on planning was passed last night along with the Planning Bill.

The Climate Change, Energy and Local Transport bills have also gained Royal Assent.

The climate legislation makes the UK the first country in the world to adopt legally-binding carbon emission targets.

Under the Climate Change Act, the government will have to adhere to five year carbon budgets and will be required to provide annual reports on its progress towards meeting the budgets.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: "The UK is the first country in the world to introduce a legally-binding framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“Setting the 80 per cent target was the easy part: now the work really begins. Government, communities, businesses and individuals need to work together to bring about change.

"The Energy and Planning Acts will be instrumental in reducing carbon emissions, removing barriers to enable industry to invest in important new infrastructure, and giving individuals and communities the incentive to use energy more efficiently and generate their own heat and energy."

Meanwhile the Local Transport Act 2008 will help bring all modes of transport together, by strengthening the role of the Passenger Transport Authorities - to be renamed Integrated Transport Authorities (ITAs) - and by enabling new ones to be established.

These will help major urban areas outside London to improve coordination of the road network and public transport.

The existing six Passenger Transport Authorities will be renamed ITAs from early in the new year. They will take on full responsibility for local transport planning across their areas.

The Act also creates the opportunity for local areas to review their existing arrangements, and to propose reforms including enhanced powers and boundary changes.

More at UK Government.