Following the reply from Sterling Chemical Malta Ltd last Sunday, (‘Chemicals factory ‘in full compliance’’, The Sunday Times of Malta, December 23), I wish to make some observations about the timeline of the story, about which the public may not be aware:

Firstly, once IPPC installations are obliged by law to send annual reports to the environment autho­rity and undergo inspections it is fair to say, in common parlance, that such an installation is being ‘monitored’, and rightly so.

According to the Environment and Resources Authority, compliance inspections were carried out by the IPPC unit after the issue of an operations permit to the factory in 2015. (See reference below)

During a pre-announced in­spection on April 5 of this year:

“A new temporary waste area was noted to be constructed and in operation outside of the permitted site boundary and the designated waste storage area in breach of various permit conditions. Hazardous liquid waste was also noted not to be bunded. The operator was informed that an update of the application was required to include the waste management area was required. SCM was also instructed to ensure all hazardous waste is bunded in line with environmental best practices.”

On October 24 the IPPC unit paid a second surprise visit to the factory. During the unannounced in­spection, ERA reported:

“It was observed that the sump which was supposed to be constructed by the end of September 2018 was, in fact, not. Moreover three rainwater drain outlets were noted in the area. All liquid hazardous waste were noted to be bunded. Following discussion with the operator, the deadline for the construction of the sump was extended till the end of December 2018, due to the fact that the contractor is unavailable before this time. Nonetheless, the operator was instructed that all rainwater drain outlets are to be immediately be locked with a lockable valve and/or sealed.”

The company got around to complying with the above last month, as we have been in­formed. It is evident from the same ERA document that a deadline for obtaining ISO 14001 accreditation and implementation of an environmental management system for an improvement programme has been ex­tended to December 2019.

­The relevant legislation lays down “measures designed to prevent or, where that is not practicable, to reduce emissions to air, water and land.”

ERA’s IPPC unit should be given every support for the good work being carried out to protect our environment.

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