Hazardous waste incinerator to be relocated to Magħtab

New plant will be built on 18,185sq.m of agricultural and natural land in Magħtab some 400m away from a proposed incinerator for non-hazardous household waste

A digital render of the proposed development
A digital render of the proposed development

Wasteserv is proposing the relocation of the incinerator used to burn hazardous waste like animal and clinical waste from its current location in Marsa to Magħtab.

A new plant will be built on 18,185sq.m of agricultural and natural land in Magħtab some 400m away from a proposed incinerator for non-hazardous household waste. The facility will be within the boundaries of the Ecohive complex.

However, the current plant in Marsa will not be closed but will remain on cold standby just in case the new plant suffers from any unplanned outrage.

The plans have already been screened by the Environmental and Resources Authority which has concluded that the project requires a full Environmental Impact Assessment, to assess its impact on air quality and neighbouring protected areas. 

Plant needs 25m chimney

The waste set to be received in the plant includes clinical waste, pharmaceuticals, sewage, abattoir and butcher waste, fallen animals, expired food, municipal solid waste, chemical waste, organic waste, oil waste and hazardous wastes. 

The current plant in Marsa processes between 5,000 and 6,000 tonnes of hazardous waste a year delivered by 130-150 vehicles each day. The amount of waste is expected to increase to over 10,000 tonnes by 2045.

Preliminary studies show that the plant will require a stack with a height of 25m above floor level.

The site identified for the proposed relocation
The site identified for the proposed relocation

The new plant which will have two independent lines consisting of rotary kilns, each handling 1 tonne of waste per hour, will be able to handle a maximum of 14,000 tonnes of waste each year.

A project description statement presented by AIS Limited, an environmental consultancy firm hired by WasteServ, notes that the relocation of the plant will be beneficial for Marsa residents.

This is because the current thermal facility is located very close to the harbour in a highly populated area which includes both industrial and residential buildings. 

Moreover, the plant has caused “severe odour problems”, which resulted in complaints from the affected neighbours and people living and working in surrounding areas. 

In contrast, the ECOHIVE Complex at Magħtab is located in a far less populated area where all of Malta’s waste treatment facilities are being centralised. 

The report also notes that operational costs at the Marsa facility are considerably high, at around €571 per tonne of waste, compared to €320-€350 per tonne of waste for similar hazardous waste plants elsewhere in the EU.

The new facility could also result in a reduction in the 32,477 tonnes of hazardous waste which is exported every year.

The ECOHIVE complex in which the TTF is proposed consists of several other waste management facilities, which will include the Waste to Energy facility, a proposed Material Recovery Facility, an Organic Processing Plant and an Anaerobic Digestion Plant. 

Project set to relieve Marsa

The area identified for the new hazardous waste incinerator has a footprint of 18,185sq.m.

The site presently consists of many small parcels of agricultural fields, degraded garigue, protected rubble walls and a number of trees including protected pine trees. 

Apart from the loss of natural habitats the new location will also increase transportation costs.  This is because the current location of the incinerator is adjacent to the abattoir from which a significant amount of waste comes from. 

Emissions from the new stack following incineration of waste may also include Nitrogen Oxides, Acid gases, Dioxins and Particulate matter and metals.

But according to the preliminary study emissions to the air can be minimised using the best available technology.  A detailed air dispersion model still has to be carried out to study the risks involved to people living in the surrounding areas.

The plant like all other incinerator plants will also result in ash waste. Typically, rotary kiln incinerators produce bottom ash waste residues equivalent to around 9.5% of the incinerator inputs. These residues can be used to fill roads or may be directed to the nearby landfill. Fly ash residues usually amount to the equivalent of around 0.5% of incinerator input. These are normally stored in big bags and exported abroad.