The fat lady sings for IPC OPRA

2003 is the last year for which the Agency will rate companies sites using the operator and pollution risk appraisal scheme under integrated pollution control (IPC OPRA). The scheme is being replaced by a new "environmental protection" OPRA scheme as the Agency phases in the integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) regime (see main article).

In 2001 - the first year for which the Agency reported OPRA scores - some 1,600 industrial processes were rated. The number fell to 1,050 in 2003, reflecting the shift to IPPC. As a result, it is not possible to assess trends for the paper, cement, ferrous and non-ferrous metals sectors.

Nevertheless, the OPRA data for 2003 reveals some interesting results. The overall figures appear to continue the general improvement in operator performance reported for 2002 (ENDS Report 343, pp 7-8 ). In 2003, just 15% of companies scored a C rating or below compared with 19% the year before. Just 3% scored a low D for operator performance, compared with 5% in 2002.

In the chemicals sector, performance also improved in 2003. Good A or B ratings were achieved by 49% of operators, up from 46% in 2002. Just 3% of chemicals operators received a D rating, including Kronospan, ACS Dobfar, Industrial Chemicals, and CML Group.

Chemical giant Rhodia scored a D and a C for two high-risk processes at its site near Bristol. The poor OPRA score is surprising given that the company has promised the Agency that it will invest some of its handsome windfall from the UK emissions trading scheme in improving performance at the site.

Contract Chemicals maintains its place as one of the best run companies. Straight As are also notched up by Dow Corning's Barry works and Tioxide's Grimsby site.

The fuel and power sector maintained its good performance with 65% scoring A or B and no sites scoring lower than a C. However, EPR's biomass plant near Ely - which was highlighted for its poor performance in 2001 - has slumped back to an E rating under the new EP OPRA scheme.

In the waste sector, Lanstar Waste Treatment site at Cadishead remains one of the worst performers, with D ratings for both processes. A leak of chemical waste at the site recently cost the company £78,000 (ENDS Report 353, p 59 ). In contrast, an incinerator operated by Thames Water improved two grades to band A.

Clarification: Clariant and CSG
In our article on IPC OPRA data for 2002 (ENDS Report 343, pp 7-8 ) we highlighted Clariant Life Science Molecules' site in Hull as one of the "worst run, highest risk processes". The Agency later amended the site's operator performance score from a D to a C rating. Moreover, Clariant has asked us to point out that manufacturing operations on the site ceased in 2002.

A waste site owned by Cleansing Service Group's Lanstar subsidiary also appeared on the list of "worst run, highest risk processes." CSG asked us to point out that scores had not been updated because the process was not currently operational. However, the company has retained its IPC permit - and the process again received a D rating for 2003.