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SOSJ have made submissions to Transport and Technical Services and the Regulator, relating to various aspects of current applications by Transport and Technical Services that need to be approved before the Energy from Waste Plant can be run. At time of writing responses are still awaited. read on to find out why we have made these submissions… and be worried, very worried…

Picture: Risk assessment map of La Collette development - click for high res version
Risk assessment map of La Collette development – click for larger version

Our submissions dated 14 & 17 June 2010 relate to several Water Discharge Permits for the incinerator and the Waste Management Licence, all of which have to be approved before the plant can be commissioned. We have this month sent a further batch of questions to the Regulator relating to protocol and site safety.

SOS have examined and mapped potential safety risks at La Collette that are exacerbated by the siting of the incinerator in such a sensitive position. We are concerned about the new external horizontal flue pipes which lead to the JEC chimney and we have taken advice about possible ignition sources and accident scenarios, bearing in mind the Buncefield disaster, details of which can be found in our May 2010 edition.

The geographical placement of the incinerator with its close proximity to the fuel farm, coupled with lack of open land around the complex, leads us to suggest that following the Buncefield report, sent to all UK authorities, the incinerator would not have been allowed to have been built on the UK mainland in such an enclosed and built up area.

We have examined the Draft Emergency Plan, Proposed Energy From Waste Plant, La Collette, (2nd Draft 15th August 2008) and the Fire Service Report dated 16th October 2008. It is clear that the SOJ Fire and Rescue Service have strong reservations regarding the proposed escape road. They say: “The proposed emergency road leading from Harve (sic) des Pas is acceptable to this department only as an agreed interim measure to enable the development of the EfW plant.

It should be made clear that a full two way access and egress road leading from Harve des Pas (sic) passing to the east of the ash mound will be required for any further developments to be supported on the La Collette 11 site by this department.”

SOS NOTE: It is not made clear whether the reference to the reference to the ‘development of the EfW plant’ includes the operation of the plant.

The Draft Emergency Plan highlights many process hazards within EfW, (some of which are not uncommon in similar plants, e.g. bunker fires) and adds..There is a history of of boiler explosions in EfW boilers arising from waste being contaminated with e.g. LPG cylinders. The document lists hazards both on site and off site. Regarding off site hazards, the report highlights… “the potential for an incident at one of the neighbouring fuel sites to initiate a ‘major accident’ (i.e. there could be a ‘domino effect’).

An incident at one of these establishments could impact on the EfW site, particularly if wind direction were to be between Westerly and Northerly.”

SOS NOTE: this is the prevailing wind direction.

There have been several accidents and incidents at La Collette over recent years, both of a polluting nature and of a chemical spill and fire hazard nature. For those who say all will be well, we would point out that a major disaster was narrowly averted in 1999 when 100 firefighters had to be brought to the island to contain a hydrochloric acid spill at the JEC. (Full details are given in our May 2010 edition.)

As for pollution from actually building the incinerator, already several events have been documented by SOS, but only one was reported to the public. One prolonged and serious event is now being dealt with by the Attorney General’s Office, and we await the result. We supply an eye witness report in our January 2010 edition. We have held back publishing and commenting on the TTS report in deference to the ongoing investigation.

SOS are currently concerned about the huge volume of pre-heated water that will be pumped from the plant into the Ramsar Area once it is operational. Our submission (as previously mentioned) to the Regulator addresses this matter.

Picture: Catastrophe at La Collette? This is what could happen...
Catastrophe at La Collette? This is what could happen…

In this visualisation, similar to the Buncefield accident, escaping vapour from a fuel tank, undetected by a faulty sensor, drops to ground level overnight and collects into a deadly mist, and flows across the compound. An ignition source ignites the vapour, leading back to the tanks and causing a series of explosions. The prevailing westerly wind sends the flames over the Connex bus park and the diesel fuel tanks on up to 100 parked buses overnight ignite and ‘domino’ explosions occur.

There are many other scenarios, including chemical spills and reactions, electrical faults and steam leaks. The main factor is usually unpredictable and often down to human error. It can be said with certainty that accidents of this nature can and will happen and the problem for the staff of each industrial unit and the Fire and Rescue Services will always be containment first and foremost.

We have now sent the Regulator a list of questions which we respectfully request are answered fully before the plant is commissioned.

La Collette development – an unacceptable risk?
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