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.

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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