The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

WasteServ refutes allegations workers referred to hospital due to incinerator smells

Wednesday, 25 September 2019, 08:06 Last update: about 24 days ago

WasteServ Malta Ltd denied allegations made by the Opposition spokesperson on Environment Jason Azzopardi that some employees were referred to hospital for treatment due to incinerator smells. “Wasteserv refutes these allegations and assures both the opposition and the general public that Health and Safety issues are treated with utmost importance,” the entity said in a statement.

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It however admitted that one employee, a woman, felt sick during her “normal work day”, and went to a clinic for observation.

Azzopardi criticized WasteServe for the way it was managing its waste facilities, with Environment Minister Jose Herrera

In its statement, WasteServ said there are 52 workers at the Thermal Treatment Facility in Marsa which includes the Incinerator facility and the Autoclave. “While Wasteserv continuously strives to ensure that odours are controlled and mitigated to the best possible manner, the undisputed fact is that the incinerator treats animal carcasses and hospital waste hence a degree of odour is expected as part of the operations which are more an element of nuisance rather than being harmful. During September there was one incident at the incinerator in Marsa where one employee felt sick during her normal work day, and went to a clinic for observation.”

The incinerator which was inaugurated in December 2007 is designed to fully incinerate abattoir waste, clinical waste and other waste. To do this the temperature inside the kiln is kept at around 800 degrees C to 1000 degrees C. Emissions are treated before being released into the atmosphere. The Thermal Treatment Facility operates within an integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) permit, and as part of this Wasteserv is required to carry out regular monitoring of its emissions.

With respect to the odours from the St Antnin Facility which emanate from the treatment processes of the Organic Material, WasteServ said it is investing in additional components which would enable the enhanced treatment of the separated organic bag, expediting the treatment processes and restricting further the odours being emitted.

“On the contrary to what is being alleged, 3 out of 4 digesters are working and the other digester currently being bypassed until the bacteria inside it dies, after which Wasteserv can undertake the scheduled cleaning. Clarifying the statement with respect to puddles, Wasteserv would like to state that there are no stagnant puddles at Sant’ Antnin but any puddles of water can be attributed to continuous cleaning,” the entity said.

Wasteserv reiterated the government’s pledge to close down the Sant’ Antnin facility within seven years. In fact Wasteserv is currently working on procuring new modern facilities in order for the Organic Bag to be treated at the Malta North Facility. Also in view of this and in parallel with investment being made into a new fully fledged Recycling facility at the Malta North in order to improve efficiency, Wasteserv is in the process of commissioning a temporary waste separation line in the coming weeks at Sant’ Antnin whereby this will be operated using a current shed. Notwithstanding this, waste separation is being carried out at Malta North through the makeshift infrastructure. Wasteserv would like to clarify that as happens in any operations involving heavy machinery, unprecedented faults do occur however appropriate action is taken in due time.

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