Case study – Environmental Impact Study: burning waste as fuel

The project is owed to the constant commitment of the client to contain the heavy cost of energy production. This cost is strictly related to market price of the particular fossil fuels used; the study aimed at demonstrating that all the choices environmentally compatible had been evaluated.

The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) evaluated the effects on the environment in relation to traditional raw materials replacement – in particular of fossil fuels – with waste recovered from other industrial processes.


The first step, working together with the client, aimed at the production of the study presented to authorities, summarized as follows:

Regulatory framework

Result: identification of possible and effective strategies to submit the application, and definition of preventive “action limits” (also considering project characteristics), in order not to necessarily fall within the scope of authorization procedures other than the EIA procedure.

After having carefully evaluated the need to start a public procedure of Environmental Impact Assessment, it was defined how this procedure could configure with the existing IPPC authorization (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) – EIA procedure in Italy is inserted into a “change management” public IPPC procedure. It was also examined whether there was a need to evaluate aspects of the authorization procedures of the “Major accident risk”  legislation (Legislative Decree 334/99, as amended). It was also checked whether some protected areas were present near the industrial site. Some protected areas or other landscape features could trigger the need for other specialist assessments. There was the presence, in this case, of Sites of Community Importance and Special Protection Areas (“Habitat” Directive 92/43/CEE), which requires the activation of additional procedures of “Effects Assesment”, with relative sector studies for the assessment of impacts just on these habitats, protected at European Community level.

Project design

Result: possible evidence of different quality of direct air emissions (deriving from fuel composition) and indirect air emissions (deriving from increased vehicular traffic). It might be necessary to evaluate aspects related to health risk, noise and influence on the quality of soil and water, though probably less important than air emissions quality.

From the analysis of  a “zero version” project, and from information related to equipment and environmental emissions, discharges, noise generated from the site, and the potential impact on the quality of soil, there was evidence that there may be potential “points of contact” with the external environment. And the main sources of possible burden to environment were identified.

Environmental framework

Result: defined the need to use models (simulating falls of pollutants from chimneys) and the need for specialized studies, as 4 Sites of Community Interest and Special Protection Areas are present within 10 km from the site.

This phase, clearly important, has provided the evaluation of the environmental quality of the area from all available data (monitoring and historical data):

  • Public data for air quality from closer detection equipment
  • Sampling and determination of pollutants in soils near the site
  • Analysis from in regional databases – water quality of the area

Detailed studies

Starting from all these available data we came to their processing; the most important parts considered were those regarding the use of dispersion models, and the study of the habitats present in the SCI / SPA.

Moreover, other studies were carried out, equally relevant, but less detailed:

  • public health risk
  • visual and landscape aspects
  • analysis of the effects on soil and water bodies
  • analysis of possibile noise level


Impacts change  related to the project: no negative impact to air, public health, noise, soil and subsoil, waters , vegetation, flora, fauna and landscape. It is evaluated an increase in traffic of 3%.

Monitoring measures: the ongoing controls on recovered waste characteristics, and emissions monitoring on concentration of pollutants (already included in the IPPC procedure requirements).

Mitigation measures: strengthening Best Available Technologies in order to reduce emissions of pollutants from the industrial plant,  “pushing” pollution control devices  and improving visual impacts.

As a result of our support for the application for a EIA procedure, the Assessment Study was presented to the Authorities.

Our participation in the “Conferenza dei Servizi” with all the Authorities (regional and provincial bodies, environmental protection agencies, public health authority, …) provided a discussion on identification of any additional mitigation measures. These measures were essentially a compensation, in relation to landscape impact improvement: it was asked to plant a row of trees of native species along the border of the site (to minimize landscape impact).

At the end of the procedure, it was possible the continue with the IPPC procedure, with a positive opinion by the Authority in charge.