According to the article by The News International, Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has drafted guidelines to regularise pyrolysis plants presently operating across the Punjab province without any legal cover.

Sources in EPA revealed that during the recent smog season strict action was taken against these plants and many were demolished and sealed either by the District Administration or by the EPA.

Presently, majority of the pyrolysis plants operating in the province used to dispose off used tyres and extract carbon, wires and low quality furnace oil, which were sold in the open market.

Usually steel mills, steel re-rolling mills and furnaces purchased the low quality furnace oil and carbon from the pyrolysis plants to run their units and caused air pollution. Former DG EPA Khawaja M Sikandar Zeeshan during his tenure drafted the guidelines. The department, sources said, will soon finalise the guidelines and then they will be sent to the Punjab government for final approval.

The guidelines said the rapid demand of vehicles and other transportation have increased due to urbanisation and ultimately needed scientific disposal of used tyres. The proposed guidelines were applicable to the pyrolysis plant which will comply with the Punjab Environment Quality Standards (PSQS) or has been assessed by the EPA in term of lab analysis reports for the compliance of PEQS.

As per the draft, the pyrolysis plants will file an initial Environmental Examination report and will be granted environmental approval after the review process by the competent authority.

The EPA, in the draft guidelines, proposed that in view of provision of green belt requirement and open area to be left for the movement of fire-brigade vehicles, minimum area required for the plants shall be as 1 acre for 15 to 30 ton/batch and 1.5 acre for 30 to 60 ton/batch.

Under the Pollution Abetment Measures, the plants will be allowed to all type of authorised fuels for initial heating of the reactor, the emissions emitted from the fuel burning shall be passed through an Alkai scrubber before discharging into the atmosphere through a stack of minimum 15-metre height for proper dispersion of gasses, the furnace for heating the reactor should be optimally designed and operated so that proper burning of the fuel takes place and generation of carbon Monoxide (CO) emissions was minimised, the uncondensed gases should be flared in a designated bricks furnace equipped with stack linked with the main scrubbing system, the carbon powder produced should be removed from the reactor in a completely closed and controlled conditions in such a manner that the contents of the reactor are not open to the atmosphere at any point, the end of carbon powder line attached to a bagging plant where all the carbon powder will be packed in High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Bags (or other non-porous material) and the bags shall be mechanically sealed.

The guidelines further said only one exhaust after the bagging plant shall be allowed and the same should be attached to stack of minimum 15-metre height after passing through an Air Pollution Control Device such as an Alkali Scrubber to prevent dust/odor emission, the unit shall carry out stack and ambient air quality monitoring for SO2, Repairable suspended particulate matter, Carbon Monoxide, and Hydrocarbons at least bi-annual from an EPA registered laboratory and the unit will maintain a log book for recording the plant operations, monitoring of the stack emissions, and ambient air quality, generation and utilization of wastewater and sales of various products and by-products.

The guidelines proposed that the wastewater generated from the oil-water separator should not be discharged anywhere and should be mixed with the carbon powder, which may be sold to the cement manufacturing plants or other such industries, the generation, transportation, and disposal of carbon powder to the cement manufacturing plants or any other such industry shall be recorded through a manifest system.

To keep the surrounding atmosphere aesthetic, a greenbelt of minimum 2-metre width all along the boundary of the plant shall be developed with a minimum three rows of broad-leaved trees while the open space to be left after the green belt for the movement of the fire tenders shall be all around the plant or as per the requirement of Explosive Department. No bi-product material is allowed to be stored in this open space, the guideline proposed.

The guidelines proposed that the raw material, product (pyrolysis oil), and carbon powder (by-product) shall be stored in areas separate/distinct from the processing area (shed where the reactors are installed), open space provided for green belt and open space for movement of fire tender while the flare room should be located at the farthest place from the processing shed in an area other than the green belt and open space.

Under the mandatory housekeeping and safety requirements, the guidelines proposed that at least three digital pressure and temperature gauges outside the reactor shall be provided which should be easily readable to a person on the floor for accurate measurement of the reactor pressure and temperature, the oil recovered from the pyrolysis process (at a temperature above approximately 250 Celsius) shall be stored in a suitable tank in a safe condition, carbon powder should be placed in-closed conditions and may also be conveyed, collected, and-handled by using any closed suitable source.

For reuse of excess uncondensed gasses, the guidelines proposed that the pyrolysis plant can use excess uncondensed gases from the reactor in another reactor(s) (if available) or can be used as a substitute heating for another activity. The guideline strictly prohibited use of wood/coal in the plants, however in case of startup, wood/coal may be used. The fuel gases generated from burning of fuel shall be released through the stack of minimum height 20-metre from the ground level.

In batch process, sufficient break of about 8 hours is required to be kept from the safety point of view in order to avoid any sort of explosion due to continuous heating process, the guideline suggested and added therefore, the equipment after one batch process, can be kept unused to cool it down to the normal temperature of the environment.

For ensuring safety of workers, the plant should be operated under continuous supervision of a qualified person with a minimum of two years' experience in operating similar processes while all persons/workers in the plant premises shall wear an air filter mask to avoid inhaling of the fine carbon powder particles and the plant shall also implement all safety measures as provided in by the relevant authorities and fire safety norms.

Article by The International News.