EA pollution inventory shows reduction in key pollutants

Emissions of lead, benzene and particulates from large industrial sites have more than halved over the last decade, according to the new Pollution Inventory launched by the Environment Agency (EA).

The new website, which contains information on over 150 different pollutants from around 2000 of the largest industrial processes in England and Wales, is being developed by the Agency to enable the public to find out more about their local environment.

The Pollution Inventory shows efforts that have been made by industry over the last few years to reduce their emissions. Examples of improvements in Wales include:

  • British Steel at Port Talbot has spent £30 million on a new blast furnace fitted with suitable abatement measures and secondary fume arrestment, both of which have significantly reduced particulate releases;
  • Releases of nitrogen oxides from National Power’s combustion process at Aberthaw have fallen to less than half the company’s authorised limit following the four yearly review of its authorisation in 1996;
  • The British Steel works at Llanwern, Newport has seen £32 million invested over the past few years to reduce particulate release.

These improvement programmes have contributed to overall reductions in emissions of some key pollutants from EA regulated sites including:

  • 60% reduction in lead emissions (475 tonnes in 1990 to 194 tonnes in 1998)
  • 50% reduction in particulates (123,000 tonnes in 1990 to 64,000 tonnes in 1998)
  • Over 60% reduction in PM10s, which are small particulates less than 10microns in diameter (100,000 tonnes in 1990 to 34,000 tonnes in 1998)
  • Over 50% reduction in sulphur dioxide, which contributes to the problem of acid rain (2,870,000 tonnes in 1990 to 1,216,000 tonnes in 1998)
  • Over 60% reduction in benzene (4,600 tonnes in 1990 to 1,800 tonnes in 1998).

The 1990 figures are based on best available estimates.

The Agency said it intends to work with the UK Government and local authorities to develop a pollution inventory containing information on all sources of pollution in each area.

Over time the Agency hopes to expand the Pollution Inventory to include:

  • Information on emissions from other processes regulated by the Agency such as landfill sites and sewage treatment works. The Agency says an amendment to the Pollution Prevention and Control Bill would be the most effective way to achieve this.
  • Information on annual emission limits and other controls set by the Agency for each pollutant and whether they have been exceeded
  • Details on whether companies have been prosecuted, or subject to any other enforcement action, by the EA.
  • More information on the health impacts of individual pollutants.
  • Information on emissions from processes not regulated by the Agency such as smaller industrial sites and traffic pollution need to be incorporated into the Pollution Inventory.

The Pollution Inventory will be used by Government and the Agency to meet national and international environmental reporting commitments.

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