Commission adopts first BAT documents for industry

The European Commission has formally adopted the first reference documents on best available techniques (BAT) for large industrial installations, designed to prevent pollution.

The eight new BAT documents are in accordance with the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) directive (see related story), and provide background information for the implementation of the directive. Authorities within member states are expected to use them when granting operating permits, which will be compulsory for some 60,000 large installations.

The new documents concern the production of iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, cement and lime, pulp and paper, glass, chlorine and caustic soda, as well as the processing of ferrous metals and the design and operation of industrial cooling systems. Measures to substitute chemicals used in processes are included in the BAT documents, as are the introduction of cleaner and more efficient processes, minimisation of waste generation, installation and optimisation of abatement of air emissions and water discharges, and the reduction of noise.

“These documents indicate that many European companies have still some way to go to bring their plants up to standard,” said Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström. “The reference documents are the result of a thorough assessment involving in some cases up to 200 to 300 experts from the industries concerned, public authorities and research institutes as well as environmental organisations. It is also a highly transparent process, every single draft version is published on the internet so that anyone can comment on it.”

“The implementation of this directive will not only result in better protection of the environment and public health throughout Europe but also create a more level playing field in the internal market. We also know that people in places like India, Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, and Kazakhstan have consulted our documents in order to find out what the state-of-the-art environmental technology is.”

Another four documents are expected to be adopted in the next months, two regarding the chemical industry, one on refineries, and one on tanneries, with 30-35 reference documents being published in total. The documents will be regularly revised, says the Commission.

In England and Wales, the Environment Agency has already launched a number of IPPC guidance documents for industries such as the ferrous foundry industry (see related story) and the food and drink industry (see related story), with a number currently under consultation.

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