Worried about emissions from incinerators

| 05/09/2018

Are there laws regulating solid waste incineration units? I am referring to regulations that limit emissions of nine air pollutants (i.e., particulate matter, carbon monoxide, dioxins/furans, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen chloride, lead, mercury, and cadmium) from four categories of solid waste incineration units: residential solid waste; hospital, medical and infectious solid waste; commercial and industrial solid waste; and other solid waste.

Health City and the dump have running incinerators, and there is one on Cayman Brac. Is there any type of control over emissions from these units?

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusAuntie’s answer: I checked with the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) and the regulations you are asking about would be the Public Health (Infectious Waste) Regulations (2002 Revision).

Specifically, a DEH official pointed to Section 4, “Requirements of Incinerators”, explaining this details the “conditions for operating an incinerator, its emissions as well as ash sampling as per EPA (the US Environmental Protection Agency) methods”.

While the DEH has provisions in place to monitor the construction and operation of incinerators, the official explained that the regulations do not include the “guidelines indicating what pollutants one should test for”. In addition, the DEH does not have the “necessary equipment to allow for adequate monitoring of such emissions at this time”.

As for when the DEH will be able to test for these emissions, “It is hoped that (the department) will be able to do so in the foreseeable future.”

I think this is an issue worth staying on top of, so I will be checking back with DEH to try to find out when the department will have the capability to perform these emission tests.

To read all the requirements for building and operating incinerators, you can find the regulations mentioned in this column in the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie, Environmental Questions

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I always wondered what that burning smell was on the island.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CNS!
    I guess there is no the electronic form of Section 4, “Requirements of Incinerators” because they didn’t provide the link.
    I don’t think the issue falls under “infectious waste” regulations.
    Incinerator emissions are not infectious, it is a different kind of public health hazard.
    This is new for Cayman and I think that the government must enact legislation and promulgate regulations calling for increasingly stringent environmental control for commercial, industrial and residential solid-waste incinerators, Hospital, medical, and Infectious Waste Incinerators and Small waste combustors.

    Please stay on top of it.
    Many thanks again!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mind blowing! This is more important than iguana cull. People could be getting poisoned by incinerator’s emissions 24×7 without even knowing it. Incinerated waste often more toxic than original waste.

    How in the world all 3 incinerators were approved to be built and function without first having necessary equipment, and qualified personnel to allow for adequate monitoring of emissions?

    In the USA, various regulations for each incinerator type stipulate the DETAILED MONITORING, reporting, performance test, and planning requirements for each type of incinerator.

    for example:

    > Section 129 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), titled, “Solid Waste Combustion,” requires the EPA to develop and adopt standards for solid waste incineration units[Hospital, Medical, and Infectious Waste Incinerators (HMIWI)] .
    “This suite of actions promulgate EPA’s new source performance standards (NSPS), emission guidelines (EG), and federal implementation plan (FIP) for hospital/medical/infectious waste incineration units (HMIWI). These final rules set limits for nine pollutants under CAA section 129:
    carbon monoxide,
    hydrogen chloride,
    nitrogen oxides,
    particulate matter,
    polychlorinated dibenzo-pdioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans, and
    sulfur dioxide.”

    > Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units (CISWI) https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/commercial-and-industrial-solid-waste-incineration-units-ciswi-new

    >Small Municipal Waste Combustors (SMWC) https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/small-municipal-waste-combustors-smwc-new-source-performance

    Waste incinerating is a serious business. In Bermuda they have Bermuda Emissions Control Ltd. Still “Incinerator’s highly toxic pollutants exceed permitted level by four times”

    I can only imagine what is happening in the Cayman Islands in the complete absence of monitoring, reporting, performance testing, and planning requirements.

    Read the article that focuses on air exposure\inhalation pathways as related to human health. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/demil/articles/incinerator.htm