Magħtab's proximity to sea made it ideal for incinerator, report shows

The impact of warm water discharge from the incinerator on Posidonia meadows off Maghtab has to be assessed, according to the project development statement presented by Wasteserv

The area where the incinerator may be set up
The area where the incinerator may be set up

One of the reasons why Magħtab has been selected as the site of the new incinerator is its proximity to the sea to supply water for the plant’s cooling system.

This comes from the project development statement presented by Wasteserv as part of the preparatory work before more detailed environmental impact studies get underway.

The report shows that Magħtab was chosen after a site selection study that considered different locations, including sites near the Ta’ Barkat sewage treatment plant in Xgħajra, near the power station in Delimara and near the Sant Antnin recycling plant in Marsaskala.

 

The report indicates that an area located on the eastern side of the Maghtab waste complex has been identified as the most appropriate location, given that it is the one most distant from large settlements, and the one that would have the least impact in terms of ecological footprint and tree cover. The area is presently used for intensive agriculture.

It is envisaged that the footprint for the waste-to-energy plant will occupy around 5,000 sq.m. However, the ancillary facilities that will be required will bring the total footprint to circa 20,000 sq.m.

Impact on marine life

An issue flagged in the report is the possible negative impact the incinerator's cooling system will have on the nearby marine environment.

The discharge of warm water to the sea could impact the extensive Posidonia meadows in the Bahar ic-Ċagħaq waters, with Wasterv saying this had to be studied further.

The project development statement identifies the environmental issues which need addressing in the environmental impact studies that will follow.

Posidonia meadows, also known as the lungs of the Mediterrean, are a protected habitat according to EU law due to their importance in creating ideal habitats for marine life and in releasing oxygen.

The presence of Posidonia meadows was considered as the greatest obstacle for land reclamation in Bahar ic-Caghaq in a study conducted in 2007.

In the past the impact of the cooling system of the BWSC power station in Delimara on the marine environment at il-Ħofra ż-Żgħira was considered to be one of its most problematic environmental aspects.

According to the PDS, “various options” exist with respect to the cooling systems which can be adopted.

But cooling towers, which reduce the water’s temperature to ambient water temperature before discharge, are deemed to be too intensive in terms of land uptake.

The report hints at “further consideration” to seawater intakes and outlets, “so as to identify options that are technically feasible, yet have the least possible environmental impact”.

PD wants more information

Ahead of a debate on the incinerator in Parliament's environment committee later on Monday afternoon, the Democratic Party has called on the government to divulge more information on the project.

PD leader Godfrey Farrugia said the government had to be fully transparent on its waste-to-energy plans.

Farrugia said the government had to say whether it would study the impact an incinerator would have on people's attitudes towards recycling and the possible impact the plant would have on air quality in the area.

 

Farrugia also asked for information on how the ash produced by the incinerator will be disposed of.

 

 

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