New EA approach to hazardous pollutants discharges by Nick Boley

The Environment Agency will be introducing more stringent rules covering discharges of hazardous chemicals in surface waters. following a partial response to a consultation on this subject which closed in December 2013 to amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.

The procedure for screening hazardous pollutants in water discharges will be tightened, with the emphasis on the more toxic pollutants and is aimed to deliver compliance with the agency’s “no deterioration” policy which requires “control of discharges which cause more than 10% deterioration against the EU Environmental Quality Standard (EQS)”.

One of the main concerns about this change of direction is from those responsible for measuring pollutants in laboratories – including water companies. The methods of analysis available for many of the most highly toxic pollutants which would be caught by this change struggle to cope with the current levels as specified in the EQS and so there is a potential large cost to laboratories to gear up their procedures to cope. The ability of measurement methods to enforce and monitor pollution under any regulatory regime is an important aspect and should not be ignored.



New EU Regulation on Persistent Organic Pollutants by Nick Boley
December 18, 2014, 10:22
Filed under: chemicals, Environment/Ecology, EU Regulation/Legislation, Waste | Tags: ,

The European Commission have published a new regulation, 1342/2014, which adds limit values to a number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) listed in the Stockholm Convention. The POPs concerned are: chlordecone, hexabromobiphenyl, hexachlorocyclohexanes, including lindane, pentachlorobenzene, tetrabromodiphenyl ether, pentabromodiphenyl ether, hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether, and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives.

These are for articles, where the values are between 15 µg/kg for dioxins and furans, to 50 mg/kg for many other POPs.

Validated analytical methods need to be in place to ensure that this can be enforced, and the limits are such that this is not an issue.


Environment Agency published Biodiesel Quality Protocol by Nick Boley
November 26, 2014, 13:14
Filed under: Fuels, transport, UK Government Information, Waste | Tags: ,

The Environment Agency has published a new Biodiesel Quality Protocol which lays down when a biodiesel product made from waste oil is no longer a waste product.

It makes clear which waste products can be used (waste oil from cooking, rendered animal fats and waste oils no longer fit for consumption) and reminds producers of the testing regime which needs to be adhered to: the first batch produced, in order to show that the quality standard is being reached, and thence one in every ten batches, and at least once per month. Each batch must also be tested in-house and samples kept for 3 months in case further testing or examination is required.

BS EN 14214:202 must be used for this. This, amongst other things, lays down the testing procedure to be used for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis.

European Commission asks Member States for Fracking Information by Nick Boley
October 27, 2014, 12:59
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, EU Information, Waste, Water | Tags: , , , ,

The European Commission have reminded Member State Governments of the need to respond to a questionnaire to inform DG Environment of the measures being taken surrounding any intention to permit exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

This follows on from a Commission Recommendation which discusses the minimum principles on this subject, and was issued in January 2014.

The questionnaire contains a wide range of questions, but some of them have a definite analytical measurement direction. For example, one of the issues raised in question 6.2 is whether baseline values for the presence of methane and other volatile organic compounds in water would be determined prior to operations commencing. Question 10.1 asks whether measures are in place to ensure that manufacturers, importers and downstream users refer to “hydraulic fracturing” when complying with their obligations under REACH Regulation – specifically with regards to chemical substances used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. Two points raised in question 11.3 ask whether measures are in place to ensure operators measure the precise composition of the fracturing fluid used for each well, and air emissions of methane, other volatile organic compounds and other gases that are likely to have harmful effects on human health and/or the environment. Question 15 asks whether measures are in place to ensure that the operator publicly disseminates information on the chemical substances and volumes of water that are intended to be used and are finally used for the high-volume hydraulic fracturing of each well, including  listing the names and CAS numbers of all substances and include a safety data sheet, if available, and the substances’ maximum concentration in the fracturing fluid.


Environment Agency publishes sampling and testing guidelines for landfill by Nick Boley
June 24, 2014, 13:33
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, UK Government Information, Waste | Tags: , ,

The Environment Agency has published a guidance document entitled “Waste Sampling and Testing for Disposal to Landfill”. This document is designed to assist waste process operators on how to classify waste products which are intended for landfill, detailing how to apply Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) in assessing landfill-bound wastes. WAC limits cover:

  • Total concentration limits for the organic components and pH; and
  • Leachable components

Sampling plans should be prepared to comply with national and European standards (e.g. BS EN 14899:2005 Characterisation of waste – Sampling of waste materials – Framework for preparation of a sampling plan). Leaching tests must be carried out according to BS EN 12457-2:2002 “Characterisation of waste – Leaching – Compliance test for leaching of granular waste materials and sludges – Part 2 One stage batch test at a liquid to solid ratio of 10 l/kg for materials with high solid content and with particle size below 4mm (without or with size reduction).” Leaching tests are usually – but not always – carried out by an analytical laboratory.

The document gives a list of parameters which should be tested for, and their limits. Waste process operators would normally send samples and/or leachates to specialist laboratories to determine whether any of these contaminants are present and, if so, at what levels. It is expected that any laboratory carrying out such measurements would be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 for the measurements concerned, use appropriate Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) and can demonstrate good performance in an appropriate proficiency testing (PT) scheme.



Waste exports from the EU on the rise by Nick Boley
November 7, 2012, 11:08
Filed under: Uncategorized, Waste | Tags: , ,

The volume of waste moving between EU member states and being exported from the EU has significantly increased since 1999 according to a report published by the European Environment Agency.

These figures cover both non-hazardous waste, some of which is destined for recycling but, more worryingly, hazardous waste continues to be shipped illegally to non-OECD countries. Hazardous waste can include fly ash from incinerators, contaminated soil, lead batteries, waste mineral oils and other chemicals. These can easily be identified by analysis if samples would be taken at ports of exit where misdescription of consignments is suspected.

Call for Mercury ban in dental amalgams by Nick Boley
October 11, 2012, 09:54
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, Waste | Tags:

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a non-Governmental Organisation, has written to EU Member States’ representatives to ask them to support a complete ban on the use of mercury in dentistry.

They believe that dental amalgam represents a major use for mercury and estimate that dental amalgam contributes 21-32% of overall EU mercury emissions to air, and up to 9-13% of overall mercury emissions to surface

The EEB have also written to EU ministers to put forward their concerns regarding the continuing use of cadmium in batteries, and mercury in button-cell batteries.

The future potential introduction of legislation to ban mercury from batteries and dental amalgams would require enforcement including accurate and sensitive measurement techniques for mercury in these products.