New guidance aims to reduce ‘aggressive risks’ in AD

The Environment Agency is to publish a draft Best Available Techniques (BAT) guidance note for consultation in the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry in September.

The idea is to gain industry feedback so that the agency can develop workable solutions, which will improve overall standards across the fledgling industry.

Speaking at a session that focused on how to ensure high standards of operation at ADBA’s annual conference and exhibition in Birmingham last week (July 5), industry regulation policy adviser at the Environment Agency, Howard Leberman, told delegates that AD was not a low-risk activity and operators needed to recognise the risks associated with running an AD facility.

“You are dealing with an aggressive working environment,” he warned. “Anybody that deals with an explosive gas/biogas runs the risk of catastrophic issues. Loss of containment can wipe out an ecosystem, so it’s not low risk and you need understand the risk at whatever scale.”

Leberman highlighted some common problems and warned that inspectors had come across a lot of poorly designed and poorly operated facilities.

The aim of the draft BAT guidance, he said, was to pull together a wide range of literature into one best practice guide. The document would be developed further as new techniques and innovations came on-stream.

“We’re looking for feedback, workable solutions, where we’ve got it wrong, where we need to tighten, so that we can build that into a guidance note that sets the scene for the AD industry,” he told delegates.

Leberman concluded that unless operators understood the risks and ensured high standards of operation, there was a risk of fatalities.

“There been examples in Europe and there have been examples in this country,” he said. “At the end of the day, the onus is on you. We go after companies and where companies have everything in place, we can go after individuals.”

Nick Warburton

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