Following my correspondence to the Environment Agency, BioConstruct (the owners of the plant) and Gateshead Council.
Bioconstruct responded to explain their flare operations are a normal process and pointed out other possible local causes of the odour, however they apologised for any inconvenience caused.
Due to my office’s intervention the Environmental Agency attended first thing on Monday morning and whilst they did not detect any odour, whilst they were on site, they did identify that:
“Due to the failure to replace the carbon filter material, the filter in the upgrading plant had now become saturated resulting in odour being released from the upgrading plant itself. Once this was noticed by staff, further excess gas was diverted to the emergency flare to be burnt, reducing the risk of pollution. Burning of gas from the upgrading plant was still ongoing at the time of the inspection. New carbon was due to arrive on site on 11 July to allow for a full carbon filter change, returning the site to normal operations. It was later confirmed that a carbon filter change was successfully completed the following day on the 12 July.”
Because of this the Environmental Agency will undertake a full investigation and summary report is undertaken to allow for a better understanding into the cause of the odour release, what failures, if any, have occurred and what preventative actions should have been taken. If any breaches of the permit are identified this will be accurately recorded in a compliance inspection report with required actions to be taken and an appropriate enforcement response considered at that stage.
In addition to their investigation outlined above, the Environment Agency have met with Gateshead Council to discuss their forward approach to regulation and will work together to ensure any impacts from both the site activities and the land-spreading activities are communicated early and handled appropriately by the lead authority.
I am glad that by my intervention that an investigation is underway. I will be asking to meet with BioConstruct over the summer to discuss the ongoing odour and what prevention measures they are continually putting in place.
If any constituents would like a copy of their full responses please do email in [email protected]