BELGIUM: Directive on integrated pollution prevention and control

According to recent statements in the Belgian press, eight industrial sectors are going to be able to use the official reference documents on best available techniques in implementing the Council Dire…

According to recent statements in the Belgian press, eight industrial sectors are going to be able to use the official reference documents on best available techniques in implementing the Council Directive 96/61/EC on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC). The European Commission has adopted the first reference documents concerning iron and steel production, non-ferrous metals, cement and lime, pulp and paper, glass, chlorine and caustic soda, as well as the processing of ferrous metals and the design and operation of industrial cooling systems. These documents outline the measures to substitute chemicals used in processes, introduce cleaner and more efficient processes, minimize waste generation, install and optimize abatement of air emissions and water discharges and reduce noise, etc. On the manufacture of chlorine and caustic soda, for example, the reference documents conclude that membrane cell technology is the best available technology because it has less hazardous emissions and higher energy efficiency than mercury technology and asbestos-diaphragm technology. Other sectors will soon benefit from the document, with the Commission aiming in the next couple of months to adopt two reference documents on the chemical industry – one on refineries and one on tanneries. In all, some 30 to 35 reference documents will be published and regularly revised. Europe has previously pointed out that the objective of the IPPC Directive is to prevent or reduce air-, water- and land-pollution by introducing a comprehensive permitting system that assesses every environmental medium. Its scope covers waste generation, energy use, accident prevention and clean-up and can be applied to a number of industrial activities that present high pollution risks (energy production, production and transformation of metals, chemical industry, waste treatment installations and the food industry and cattle rearing). Since the end of 1999, new installations are required to have a permit issued in compliance with the Directive. Older installations have until 2007 to obtain authorizations that comply with the directive and apply the best practice techniques.