France reports 40% reduction in dioxin emissions from waste incineration
Large municipal waste incinerators emitted 40% less dioxins in 1998 than in 1997, according to the latest figures from the French Environment Ministry.
Municipal waste incinerators with a capacity of over 6 tonnes/hour released some 300g of dioxins/furans to the atmosphere in 1998, compared to 500g in 1997. The Environment Ministry says this is due to its actions to enforce or closure compliance at facilities that were not meeting legal standards. However, 12 of the 75 incinerators that operated during 1998 are still not in compliance with current standards, and enforcement efforts are being concentrated on these plants. Releases are expected to be reduced to 150g in 1999.
The approach taken by the French authorities has been to hit operating companies in the pocket, by forcing them to pay a ‘deposit’ equivalent to the cost of the worked needed to achieve compliance. The money is then refunded when the facility is closed or manages to comply with legislation.
Using milk as an indicator, the Ministry monitored environmental impacts around facilities whose emission contained more than 10 ng/m3 of dioxins in 1997. Milk was withdrawn from the market around two incinerators, as it was found to contain over 5pg/g of fat. One of these incinerators (Hénin-Beaumont) was closed in September 1998. The other (Maubeuge) reduced its emissions by factor of three between February and July 1998, but is still the subject of enforcement action, as it has not yet complied with standards.
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