Yes, my goodness, yes they are cherubs!
Extractive wastes – and not only from oil and gas exploration – are regulated under the EU Mining Waste Directive 2008 which is implemented by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, as amended. Let’s take a quick look shall we?
These regulations require sites that generate extractive wastes to hold an environmental permit. In obtaining one of these permits, my dears, operators have to produce a detailed Waste Management Plan that sets out the steps they’ll take to minimise waste and manage waste properly.
This Plan has to quantify and describe the wastes accurately, explain the originating processes and activities, describe how they’ll be handled on site and how they’ll be dealt with for recycling or disposal.
Manufacturers, some of which in the chemical industry produce lots and lots of often quite unpleasant wastes, don’t have to produce plans like this…
The entire permit application, including forms, Waste Management Plan and a risk assessment, are all submitted to the Environment Agency and then subjected to at least one round of public consultation – giving communities an opportunity to influence them.
Once granted, operators have to stick to the commitments made in their Plan.
But the EU Mining Waste Directive and permitting regulations aren’t the only ones that matter – no sir! There are LOTS of others that apply to make sure communities are protected:
33 Prohibition on unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal etc. of waste
(1)Subject to subsections (1A), (1B), (2) and (3) below and, in relation to Scotland, to section 54 below, a person shall not—
(a)deposit controlled waste or extractive waste, or knowingly cause or knowingly permit controlled waste or extractive waste to be deposited in or on any land unless an environmental permit authorising the deposit is in force and the deposit is in accordance with the licence;
(b)submit controlled waste, or knowingly cause or knowingly permit controlled waste to be submitted, to any listed operation (other than an operation within subsection (1)(a)) that—
(i)is carried out in or on any land, or by means of any mobile plant, and
(ii)is not carried out under and in accordance with an environmental permit.
(c)treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste or extractive waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.
So, my lovelies, in a nutshell extractive waste can only be recycled or disposed of at facilities that are also regulated under a permit. Which means the Environment Agency has two opportunities to make sure it’s done right: (i) by making sure operators stick to their Plan at the drilling locations, and (ii) by making sure the receivers of extractive waste deal with it in accordance with their permits.
Wastes have to be classified in accordance with the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 and the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 – which also, sweeties, require businesses to prioritise waste reduction and recycling over disposal – and transfers of waste between parties need to be recorded as described in the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 and section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Does that sound unregulated to you my dears? No, of course not!
Until next time xxx