HAZARDOUS WASTE could soon be stored in a salt mine in Winsford, Cheshire.
Environmental consultant Enviros has been advising Minosus, a joint venture between Salt Union and Sarp Industries (part of the Vivendi Environment Group), on the development of the facility since 1999.
Hazardous waste would be stored in drums or bags in the deep, dry mine. Similar facilities have been operated in Germany and France for many years.
'We believe there will be a significant shortage of hazardous waste disposal facilities in the UK in the next few years, ' said Minosus managing director Roger Shaw.
'The implementation of the EC Landfill Directive will prohibit the co-disposal of hazardous waste with non-hazardous industrial and municipal waste.'
Government research anticipates there will be very few hazardous waste landfills and it will be difficult to develop new hazardous waste sites, he said.
'Agreeing how to define the range of wastes to be deposited has been difficult, ' said Enviros project director John Lucas.
'Due to the unique nature of the facility, we have had to develop a set of rigorous waste acceptance criteria. These are based around the Special Waste Regulations, but we have also had to consider the likely revisions which will be introduced to incorporate changes to the European Waste Catalogue.
'The Environment Agency has been helpful in making its requirements clear, but a lot of detailed work on waste types has been necessary.'
Following a planning application submitted to the Cheshire County Council in 1999, the Minosus proposals went to a planning inquiry in November last year. The outcome is not anticipated before mid-2002.
The Environment Agency is also considering a Pollution Prevention Control permit application for the proposal and if both are successful the facility could be operating by early 2003.