The new extension of the Delimara Power Station is set to produce at least 14,000 tons of hazardous waste per year as government has chosen a plant that will work on Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) until it is converted to operate on natural gas at the additional cost of at least €27 million.
15 tons of hazardous solid waste made up of the spent catalyst will also have to be exported. Another 993 tons of liquid hazardous waste produced by the oil sludge will also be exported if it cannot be disposed of locally. Another 8 tons of semi-solid hazardous waste consisting of the boiler wash down sludge will also have to be deposited in a hazardous waste landfill.
MEPA concedes that a major impact will be caused by the 9,993 tons of effluent a year that will flow into the sea behind the plant at Hofra z-Zghira which has already been destroyed by the effluent from the existing plant. We are now being asked to believe that those who have destroyed this natural environment in the area will mend their ways, start doing what they should have done in the last 20 years and bring back to life what they have killed already.
Another 11 tons of effluent made up of oxidants and disinfecting agents will also be disposed into the sea. Nearly 900,000 litres of sanitary waste water will be discharged into the public sewers. The treatment of this effluent needs watching as one slip could have very serious consequences.
MEPA has done everything to please Government and allow this plant on heavy fuel oil to operate as an extension to the Delimara Power Station. MEPA is showing a cavalier attitude on the impact of the plant on the health of people living in the area: “Likely impacts are those associated with respiratory system. However, increase in PM10, NOX, SO2 due to the proposed extension is unlikely to have a health impact over the long term., even though the proposal will contribute to approaching the air quality standard threshold.” This is too casual a statement, if emissions go up, the negative impact on public health will also go up.
Indeed, the weakest part of the MEPA report giving its go ahead to the extension is the assessment of the impact on public health. There is just a passing reference to a study by Dr Calvagna in 2005 which infers higher incidence of lung cancer in the vicinity of the Marsa Power Station. But then MEPA simply concludes that the impact at Delimara will be minor. And as a blind act of faith we are asked to simply take MEPA at its word.
MEPA’s 'guardianship' of the pollution control permits of the Marsa incinerator and the Marsa power station has been lax, as it has been lax in the Falzon/Hexagon House case.
The revelation that Enemalta had switched off precipitators in March 2009, required a heavy barrage from all sides to be forced into the public domain. And that was for a one-shot (only dust) simple system; the Delimara prospect is more challenging as it has to clean up a giant cocktail of liquid and solid hazardous waste.