Norway to tighten aluminium plant permits

Industry claims planned new controls on most polluting ovens could force closures

The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) has announced plans to tighten emissions limits for the country's seven aluminium plants, arguing that the environments around the works "continue to be affected by emissions of PAHs, fluorine, sulphur dioxide and particulates". SFT notes that Norway is also "obliged by international agreements" to set stronger requirements.

SFT began revising emissions requirements in 1998 in the hope of bringing uniformity to a patchwork of emissions licences which had been issued at different times and varied from company to company. The task is complicated by the use of two different technologies, known as Søderberg and Pre-bake: the former, which is also the older of the two, emits significantly higher levels of PAHs in particular, but also fluorine and particulates.

The agency "considers the current environmental impact of the Søderberg ovens so great that the tighter requirements must be implemented even if this will lead to increased costs for the companies concerned". Five of the seven companies use both technologies, and one uses Søderberg exclusively.

SFT director Håvard Holm said: "Through this change SFT has given a clear signal to the aluminium industry that the emissions from the Søderberg ovens will not be accepted in future unless comprehensive improvements are carried out." The industry, which has been given a deadline of 2007, reacted sharply, claiming that the plants relying most heavily on Søderberg might have to close.

Norway accounts for up to 5% of global primary aluminium production and is also a major exporter of semi-finished products such as moulding, sheeting and wire.

Follow Up:
SFT, tel: +47 22 57 34 22.

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