News
26 Feb 2019, 14:08
Benjamin Wehrmann

Coal exit to disrupt burning toxic waste in German power plants

WDR

The end of coal-fired power production in Germany is set to cause problems for the disposal of toxic waste – such as sewage sludge, used oil and refinery waste – which is often burned at coal plants, Jürgen Döschner reports for public broadcaster WDR. Municipal sewage treatment facilities in particular could have a problem with how to get rid of waste. Environmental scientists oppose burning it, but “the practice so far has been a win-win business for plant operators and waste producers,” Döschner writes. “The energy companies profit because they have to use less coal and don’t need CO2 allowances, while waste producers save a lot of money that would otherwise have to be spent on special refuse treatment.”

The country's coal exit commission has proposed ending the use of the fossil fuel in Germany by 2038, with much of the country’s coal capacity shut down in the 2020s. In September 2018, WDR reported that energy company E.ON regularly burns oil production waste from British oil company BP at its Gelsenkirchen coal plant, a practice environmental activists have said is in breach of the European Chemicals Directive, REACH.  

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