Cooling systems under IPPC spotlight

Reference document says most "best available techniques" to be determined at site level

Industrial plants regulated by the EU's 1996 integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) directive should only be allowed to release hot air or water from cooling systems if they can show that the heat is not recoverable for use elsewhere, a new EU best available technology (BAT) reference document for national industrial pollution control authorities says.

The "bref" was drawn up by the EU's IPPC bureau in Seville, Spain, in cooperation with industry and environment groups. Under the IPPC directive, regulators are obliged to "take into account" BAT when deciding permit conditions, though brefs are non-binding (ENDS Daily 5 October).

The cooling systems bref lays down few generally applicable BAT guidelines, unlike some of its predecessors. In most cases, it says, "the final BAT solution" will be site-specific. The primary demand, it says, it that "in all situations, the available...options for reuse of heat must have been examined and used to reduce the amount and level of non-recoverable heat" before dissipation into the environment is considered.

Other demands includes use of recirculatory rather than "once-through" systems where water availability is low or unreliable, while groundwater use should be "minimised" where depletion of groundwater resources "cannot be ruled out". The bref also defines BAT for the use of water additives, such as biocides used to prevent the formation of scums and shellfish encrustations. Inputs should be reduced by "targeted dosing," it says, while more corrosion-resistant materials should be used in piping.

Environmental group the European Environmental Bureau is unhappy with the document. It should have included data on additive emissions, campaigners say, and should apply to nuclear power stations. Although nuclear plants are not covered by IPPC, they say, cooling systems in them are comparable with those at other power stations and should thus be covered.

Follow Up:
European IPPC bureau, tel: +34 95 448 8284, whose website includes a full text of the bref; EEB, tel: +32 2 289 1090.

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