AD plant blamed for death of fish, new media report suggests

An anaerobic digestion (AD) plant is being blamed for killing more than 1,000 fish in Wales, UK, according to media reports.

According to a report in UK newspaper The Mail on Sunday, officials are investigating if a fault caused hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic waste to be discharged from an AD plant and into the River Teifi in West Wales, killing every single fish along an eight-mile stretch.

The report stated that Natural Resources Wales confirmed more than 1,000 fish carcasses had been counted following the spillage, and a source told The Mail on Sunday that investigators were focusing on an anaerobic digester in the area.

This is the second critical report published on AD in the space of two weeks published in The Mail on Sunday. The newspaper and online outlet started a campaign on 1 January, 2017, and labelled AD the ‘great green guzzler con’, which “coverts slurry from dairy herds into methane” and “has been responsible for 12 serious pollution incidents since 2015”.

Last week’s defence

In response, Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association’s (ADBA) chief executive Charlotte Morton has wrote an open letter to the editor of UK-based newspaper The Mail on Sunday in response to the article published on AD on 1 January 2017, claiming it was misleading.

The article, written by journalist David Rose and published on 1 January, claimed that AD plants increasingly rely on special feedstock because they can’t source enough food and farm waste and that the industry receives £216 million (€245m).

Morton described Rose’s article as “misleading in its representation of anaerobic digestion (AD)” in that although AD plants are indeed eligible for payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) they also provide exceptional value for money, both for the public purse and the environment.

AD plants generate green gas and fertilisers, improve the UK’s energy security by reducing the country’s dependence on imported fossil-fuel supplies, recycle organic waste from sewage, inedible food waste and farm waste, and reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions. They also recycle nutrients, thereby helping to restore depleted soils and improve food security.

“The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) encourages all its members to operate plants to the highest possible standards, and is currently developing a Best Practice Scheme to help the industry maximise its environmental, health and safety, and operational performance,” Morton said.

“Anaerobic digesters treat a range of different feedstocks depending on local conditions. Over half the energy produced by the industry is generated from sewage sludge, followed by liquid industrial effluents. ADBA is strongly pushing for separate food waste collections in England so that as a nation we reduce and recycle through AD far more of the food waste we generate, of which there is 10 million tonnes still going to landfill or incineration in the UK.”

Morton added that energy crops are grown for AD by farmers as valuable break and cover crops in a rotation, but these represent less than 0.5% of the UK’s agricultural land – more land is used for golf courses than for growing crops for AD.

ADBA members grow crops for AD in accordance with the association’s best practice guidance, which sits alongside the Government’s sustainability criteria. Operators must meet these requirements in order to receive money through the RHI.

This story was written by Liz Gyekye ,editor of Bioenergy Insight.


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