HC Deb 05 June 2000 vol 351 cc59-60W
Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what materials were released to air from the Byker heat station in 1995; and if the operating licence imposed a duty to record the nature of the releases. [123899]

Mr. Hill

The Environment Agency's authorisation for Byker Heat Station prescribes annual mass limits for the releases to air of groups of significant materials: Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide, particulate matter, Hydrogen Chloride, Hydrogen Fluoride, certain aggregates of metals and Dioxins. The authorisation also requires recording and reporting of these releases; this information is forwarded to the Agency and is retained for inspection on a public register in Newcastle. The information is also available via the Environment Agency's website.

Releases of Byker Heat Station, Authorisation AF7690 in 1995
Substance Limit of release (kg) Total release (kg)
Carbon Monoxide 25,500 10,160
Hydrogen Chloride 14,000 7,060
Hydrogen Fluoride 600 174
Metals (CR+CU+MN+PB) 1,360 47.72
Metals (AS+NI) 240 4.48
Metals (CD+HG) 60 5.51
Nitrogen Oxides (AS NO2) 98,000 53,580
Particulates—Total 8,500 2,060
Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Dioxin—all Congeners 0.03 0.117
Sulphur Dioxide 84,000 42,550

Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 24 March 2000,Official Report, column 701W, if (a) back-up power for controls was required at the Byker Heat Station during the 1995 failure and (b) back-up is required and available now; for what reason the releases to air following the failure cannot be quantified; and what assessment he has made of the extent to which the failure to quantify such releases constitutes a breach of the operating licence. [123922]

Mr. Hill

In 1995 electrical power was supplied from the national grid and by the plant's own generator. As power is no longer generated on site, the alternative power source is no longer available. The authorisation issued by the Environment Agency does not specifically require back-up power.

The releases could not be quantified, as both the pollutant concentration and their flow rates changed continuously throughout the 15 minute incident. The amount released was non-quantified and did not constitute a notifiable release; the then regulator HMIP took no action. Authorisation conditions normally take account of transient conditions such as unpredicted power failure, and this did not constitute a breach of the authorisation.

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