IPC rules revised for chemical, metal processes

The Government has delivered on its promise to amend the regulations governing the authorisation of processes under integrated pollution control (IPC) so as to enable many chemical processes to be covered by a single authorisation. Unexpectedly, the revised regulations have also deferred the application of IPC to some metal and chemical processes.1

The amendments are largely the fruit of a lengthy campaign by the chemical industry, which claimed that the IPC regulations would make the authorisation procedure for many chemical processes unworkable. The Department of the Environment (DoE) accepted the industry's case in a consultation paper issued in July (ENDS Report 222, pp 34-35 ). The deadline for submission of applications for existing organic chemicals processes was moved forward by three months to the end of October to allow time for the amending regulations to be made.

In the existing regulations, passed in 1991, each sector of industry has its own chapter, and within each chapter distinct operations are broken down into sections. This is not the case with the chemical industry, where the divisions between sections are made principally on the basis of process chemistry. Since, however, many multi-stage chemical operations use processes described in different sections, the net result would have been that many could not readily have been covered by a single authorisation.

As proposed in July, the DoE has now amended the regulations so that two or more processes described in the chapter dealing with the chemical industry will be treated as if they were described in the same section, making a single authorisation possible.

The revised regulations also provide for combustion processes operated "as an inherent part of and primarily for the purpose of" any chemical process to be regulated under the same authorisation as the chemical process. The same rules will apply to combustion plants associated with gasification and petroleum processes.

An amendment which was not proposed in July will also have pleased the chemical industry. This provides that where a company operates on the same site more than one process falling within the same section of the chemical industry chapter, they will be treated as a single process for authorisation purposes, provided they do not produce more than 250 tonnes of products in any 12-month period.

The regulations also contain several other amendments which were not canvassed by the consultation paper. The two most significant are:

  • Several processes previously within the inorganic chemicals section have been moved to the non-ferrous metals section. These are the production or recovery of gallium, indium, palladium, tellurium and thallium where the process may result in emissions to atmosphere of particulates or smoke containing those elements. The effect of this change will be to push forward the deadline for submission of applications for authorisation from 31 July 1994 to 31 July 1995.

  • The deadline for submission of applications for fertiliser granulation processes and bulk storage of chemicals has been shifted from 31 January 1994 to 31 July 1994.

    In neither case has the DoE explained why these changes were made - but they will certainly help to reduce the workload for HM Inspectorate of Pollution created by the rush of chemical industry applications over the next few months.

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