Hazardous waste banished to the salt mines

Enviros, which specialises in environmental consultancy and software products, has been advising Minosus since 1999 on the development of its proposed hazardous waste disposal facility. Minosus is a joint venture between Salt Union and Sarp Industries (part of the Vivendi Environnement Group). The proposal is to dispose of drummed or bagged wastes in the deep, dry salt mine at Winsford, Cheshire - the first such proposal in the UK, although similar facilities have been operated in Germany and France for many years.

Salt mines are being proposed for hazardous waste storage

Salt mines are being proposed for hazardous waste storage

Waste drums stored at the Zielitz salt mine: Photo Copyright K+S 2001
Roger Shaw, Managing Director of Minosus, explains: "We believe there will be a significant shortage of hazardous waste disposal facilities in the UK in the next few years. The implementation of the Landfill Directive will prohibit the co-disposal of hazardous wastes with non-hazardous industrial and municipal wastes. The government's own research anticipates there will be very few hazardous waste landfills. Furthermore, new sites to accept only hazardous wastes are likely to be difficult to develop".

Although Cheshire County Council found no reason to refuse permission to the planning application submitted in 1999, the Minosus proposals were nevertheless fully examined at a planning inquiry in November last year. Minosus called a diverse team of specialists. Experts from Enviros presented evidence in respect of Need, Waste Policy, BPEO and Sustainability. The local residents were understandably concerned about perceived risks. Enviros helped Minosus consider a wide range of risk scenarios, and presented evidence on air quality and other environmental risk assessment issues. Mr Shaw said: "Enviros's experts have played a crucial role in giving Minosus the best possible chance of success in a critical stage in the development of the project".

The outcome of the planning inquiry is not anticipated before mid-2002. The Environment Agency is currently considering the PPC permit application and, if both are successful, Minosus would hope to have the facility in operation early in 2003.



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