Concerning 2016, in total 1295 plants reported releases and transfers of hazardous substances. The collected data are reported by the individual plants themselves and publicly available in a database operated by the Ministry of Environment. Arnika has prepared lists according to groups of substances hazardous to human health and the environment for the past thirteen years.
Unpleasant primacy goes to Spolana Neratovice, being the biggest point source of released carcinogenic and potentially carcinogenic substances thrice already. However, the chemical factory reduced its emissions of e.g. 1,2-dichloroethane and vinyl chloride significantly in comparison with the previous year, namely by more than nine tons per year. Also, lower emissions of styrene were registered by the laminate producing company Peter - GFK in Trhovy Stepanov, Central Bohemia. Local releases were also reduced by about nine tons in 2016.
This year’s surprise is the ACO Industries plant in producing polymer-concrete. In comparison with 2015, the plant increased emissions of potentially carcinogenic styrene substantially, by more than nineteen tons. Further, the new municipal waste incinerator in Chotikov got onto the list of the biggest dioxin sources, during the first year of its operation already.
The Central Prague Waste Water Treatment Plant ranks among the biggest polluters in the Czech capital due to releases of heavy metals, namely copper and zinc into the water flow. Further, the Prague waste incinerator in Malesice is the fifth biggest industrial source of dioxins transferring almost 6 g TEQ of them in waste incineration residues.
In total, the eighteen tables of polluters are dominated by facilities from the Moravian-Silesian Region, Usti nad Labem Region, Central Bohemian Region, and also from the Vysocina Region in particular.
Ozone Depleting Substances
The highest amount of ozone depleting substances was released by the nuclear power plant Dukovany that produced 375 kg of halon emissions. Halons are ranked among the substances most hazardous to the Earth ozone layer, therefore banned with a few exceptions only. „In spite of the fact that these exceptions include use for fire extinguishing in nuclear facilities, it would be certainly worth if our nuclear power plants looked for less problematic substitutes for halons. Moreover, no fire broke out in Dukovany in 2016, only a training of firemen took place. We can only hope that they did not use fire extinguishers with halons during a mere training,” comments Jindrich Petrlik, the head of the Toxics and Waste Programme of Arnika, the release of the substances.
After a year of operation, the new municipal waste incinerator in Chotikov near Plzen ranked among the ten biggest dioxin producers. In 2016, it was the third biggest source of emissions of the substances into the air, just behind the metallurgical plants in the Moravian-Silesian Region. In comparison with the data from the whole Europe, the new incinerator would rank among the first fifty plants releasing dioxins into the air. This comparison is made with roughly 250 plants that usually report their dioxin emissions into the European register.
Six of the ten biggest dioxin producers are waste incinerators. All of them, with the exception of Chotikov, reported dioxins in waste transfers, not in emissions into the air. „The fact that Ostravian ArcelorMittal and the incinerator SAKO Brno announced that their waste for recycling contain dioxins should be a warning signal for the state administration authorities. This is completely in contradiction with the goals of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, ratified by the Czech Republic,” Petrlik stressed out.
The amount of greenhouse gases increased in the previous two years. This was caused by the increase of their emissions by brown coal-fuelled power plants in Pocerady and Prunerov, by approximately 700 thousand tons of carbon dioxide in each.
Increase of mercury emissions into the air, reported into the IPR, was caused by power plants, in particular. The Sokolovska coal plant in Vresova co-incinerating waste was in the top of the list. Mercury releases from the plant more than trebled in comparison with the previous year and they formed more than 15 % of the total amount of emissions reported by the individual sources into the IPR. The north Bohemian power plants Pocerady and Tusimice followed. Jindrich Petrlik added: „This year, the Minamata Convention on mercury entered into force, and the plants similar to Vresova should start reducing their emissions. Mercury is a toxic metal that burdens the Czech Republic’s environment significantly.”
The total amount of reported styrene emissions decreased in comparison with the previous year. Similarly as in the case of carcinogenic and other substances, it is not fully clear whether it reflected the actual situation or was it caused by limitation of the duty to report into the IPR for a lower number of industrial activities. Styrene emissions were reported by eighty six plants concerning 2015, whereas only fifty two in 2016. For the second year already, the importance of styrene producers in comparison with formaldehyde grew in the share of emissions of carcinogenic and potentially carcinogenic substances, especially because of high emissions of this substance from the plant ACO Industries in Pribyslav. „Stricter regulations should apply to industrial plants releasing styrene into the air. In our opinion, it should be obligatory to apply for an integrated permit. This would force the companies to use the best available technologies, similarly as in the case of wood processing plants that are the main sources of formaldehyde emissions,” Petrlik commented the situation.
The Integrated Pollution Register (IPR) is operated, and data into it are collected by the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic via the Czech Environmental Information Agency CENIA. It may be found and searched through at www.irz.cz. The data on the releases of selected chemical substances are reported by the individual companies themselves into the register, forced to this by the law. Arnika then analyses the data and prepares clearly organised lists of polluters which cannot be easily found in the register itself. Presence in these lists and their publication often motivates the companies to reduce emissions of harmful substances and to introduce more environmentally-friendly technologies. In spite of that, there were already several attempts to limit the IPR, and that way also the public right to information on environmental pollution. The last time this happened within the framework of the so-called environmental audit was when the Ministry of Industry and Trade wanted to reduce the number of the monitored substance, as well as of the companies obliged to submit the reports and it partially succeeded.