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Drax is one of only four coal-fired power stations in England that have equipment known as Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD), which considerably reduces (by 90 per cent) the amounts of sulphur dioxide emitted during power generation. The Environment Agency authorises power generation operations at Drax power station which includes setting annual limits on emissions of certain substances. In February 2002 the operator of Drax submitted an application to the Environment Agency to run an 18-month trial to burn a blend of petroleum coke and coal. On 17 June 2004, after extensive consultation, the Agency announced that it was allowing the trial to go ahead.


WHAT IS PETCOKE? Petcoke is a high-carbon, solid product from the refining of crude oil. Its uses include making anodes used in chemical and metals processes and as a fuel in power stations, cement kilns and domestic heating. WHY HAS THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY ALLOWED THE TRIAL? We are allowing the trial at Drax power station in Selby for the following reasons:  We consider that that there will be no overall environmental detriment and it is likely that there will be a small net environmental benefit as a result of operations during the period of the trial.  External advice from a recognised expert indicates that there would not be any significant effect on public health from the carrying out of the trial.  Drax Power Station has flue gas desulphurisation equipment (FGD) that reduces sulphur dioxide emissions considerably (by about 90 per cent). Power stations that do not have FGD have a significantly more negative impact on the environment than those with FGD. There is a strong indication that the “cleaner” FGD stations are at a competitive disadvantage to non-FGD stations due to the significant cost of operating FGD. Allowing Drax to use some coal/petcoke blend could help redress this balance. WILL THE TRIAL AFFECT PEOPLE’S HEALTH? We have received independent expert advice that the trial burn would not lead to any significant adverse effects on public health. WILL THERE BE A FULL MONITORING PROGRAMME? Yes. Although a report carried out by an independent health expert advising the Environment Agency has indicated that there should be no significant impact on public health from the trial, as a safeguard the we have still required a full programme of monitoring emissions.




The programme explains what methods will be used, what monitoring will take place before and during the trial and which emissions will be monitored. 5 WHAT MONITORING WILL BE DONE? Monitoring of emissions to air, water and land will all be reported on. The types of emissions include, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, ash and vanadium. Other aspects of monitoring include overall efficiency, ash handling, burner and boiler performance and receipt, storage and handling of the petcoke. The Environment Agency also plans to use a mobile monitoring facility for two separate periods before and during the trial. WHAT IS THE ECONOMIC CASE FOR BURNING PETCOKE? In addition to the information supplied by the applicant, we have carried out our own economic analysis in relation to the application. This showed that Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) equipped stations were in general at a commercial disadvantage. This is a matter of concern to the Environment Agency as stations without FGD have a significantly greater impact on the environment. WOULD SULPHUR DIOXIDE LEVELS INCREASE? Current sulphur dioxide emissions from Drax Power Station are already close to the annual limit. Therefore although petcoke does have a higher sulphur content than coal, there should in practice be little or no increase in sulphur dioxide emissions when burning petcoke/coal blend as the operator would be in breach of its licence conditions if the annual limit were to be exceeded. HOW WOULD THE PETCOKE BE CONTAINED AND HANDLED ON SITE AT DRAX POWER STATION? All petcoke and coal/petcoke blend would be stored under cover to prevent dustblow. WHAT CONTINGENCY PLANS ARE IN PLACE IF FGD DOES BREAK DOWN ON THE TRIAL UNIT? If the FGD on the trial unit fails the operator is required to stop the feeding of petcoke. WHEN WILL THE TRIAL BEGIN? The trial will commence in June 2005. DOES THIS MEAN THAT THE BURNING OF PETCOKE WILL CONTINUE LONG-TERM? No, the operator would still need to make a further application after the end of the trial to continue burning petcoke on a longer term basis. The operator would have to show that using petcoke on a longer term basis was “BATNEEC” (the Best Available Technology Not Entailing Excessive Cost”). WHERE CAN THE DECISION DOCUMENT BE ACCESSED? Please call Lorraine Gillett for a copy on 0113 2134604, or visit the Environment Agency’s website – www.environment-agency.gov.uk/northeast/drax








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