The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Parts of Maghtab, Civil Amenity Sites seemingly operating on expired permits

Neil Camilleri Friday, 25 January 2019, 10:20 Last update: about 2 years ago

A number of Wasteserv sites, including parts of the Maghtab landfill complex and Civic Amenity Sites are seemingly operating on expired permits, The Malta Independent can report.

In some cases, the permits are missing their expiry date, according to data that is publicly available on the website of the regulator – the Environment and Resources Authority.

Waste treatment facilities, classified as high-risk installations, are controlled through the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and thus require an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit. The main aim of the IPPC regulations is to minimise pollution from various point sources, according to the ERA website.

An exercise conducted by this newspaper found that the Ta’ Zwejra non-hazardous engineered landfill in Maghtab is currently operating on a permit that expired on 24 July of last year.

On the other hand, there is no data available for the expiry date of the IPPC permit for Ghallis landfill – another part of the Maghtab facility. Ghallis takes all the non-recyclable non-hazardous waste generated on a daily basis by households and companies.

The permit for the Ghallis plant was last renewed in January 2013 and there is no information about its expiry date or about a renewal. IPPC permits generally last for four years, which would suggest that this facility is also operating on an expired permit.

This newspaper was told that the facilities cannot receive any form of waste if they do not have a valid permit. There are currently no other landfills in Malta, which means that there is currently no landfill permitted to operate.

Incidentally, the section on the ERA website for the Sant’ Antnin waste sorting facility was only updated on Thursday morning.

Until Wednesday, the documents available online showed that the Marsascala plant - which was heavily damaged by fire in May 2017 - was operating on a permit that expired on 9 December 2017.

However, an extension letter dated 18 March 2018 which extends the permit until June 2019, was uploaded yesterday morning.

The permits related to Zwejra and Ghallis had not been updated by Thursday.  


Civic amenity sites

The Malta Independent also found that three civic amenity sites are also operating under what seem to be expired permits. Unlike larger waste treatment facilities, CA sites require an Environmental Permit.

An Environmental Permit is one of two ways in which the ERA regulates the environmental impact of industrial installations that can have various environmental impacts, ranging from emissions to air or the marine environment to contamination resulting from accidents.

The current permit for the Luqa civic amenity site expired on 6 June 2018, according to information available on ERA’s website.

The civic amenity site at Tal-Kus near Xewkija, Gozo, is operating on a permit that expired on 27 October 2018, and the civic amenity site called Pitkalija, located at Ta’ Qali, is operating on a permit that expired on 15 April 2018.

There is, in the information available on the regulator’s website, no indication that these permits have been renewed or extended.

The Malta Independent sent questions to ERA’s Chief Executive Officer and to its Director Environment and Resources on Tuesday 15 January, and followed up with a reminder on 17 January.

We asked the ERA officials how these facilities are operating on expired permits.

If this is a case where the permits have been renewed but the online documents have not been updated, the ERA was asked to provide a copy of the permits to prove that this was indeed the case.

The authority has still not replied to our questions.

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