Reports from visit to Tilbury Docks Bottom Ash Reprocessing Facility run by Ballast Phoenix

A group from the Community Liason Panel visited the Ballast Phoenix Bottom Ash Reprocessing Centre at Tilbury Docks in June: Members of the group reported back as follows:

“The operation looked very professional with good dust management. Noise levels were difficult to assess as the plant had been switched off for the day by the time we got to look around. One thing that was a little disconcerting was the sight off two gas cylinders in the same heap of incinerated materials (see photos). This is something that Covanta told us could not happen, as large and potentially damaging items would always be sorted out prior to incineration.”






“Thank you and the Covanta and Ballast Phoenix teams for arranging the visit. I do think the storage and processing of the residues would be potentially one of the more difficult operations to control on site at Rookery South and it was very helpful to get a close look at a live operational site. The Ballast Phoenix manager gave us a good briefing and was approachable and open about the issues arising from these activities.

We visited Tilbury on a day when the plant itself was shut down and the weather, with mild rain all day, certainly favoured the operators by minimising any dust emissions.

We did see one or two vehicle movements, which appear to be well controlled, but the site is in the middle of a heavily industrialised dockland area, which is ideal for such activities and not truly comparable with Marston Vale. The HSE procedures for visitors were, as I would have hoped, well organised.

I noticed fine dust and sediment deposits outside the ash storage area, which I think is inevitable, given that the material is stored and handled by very large front loaders which break up the crust formed on the storage heaps. These deposits were not large, but it was impossible to assess on our visit how much material is lost in this way and how far it may be carried. The surrounding concrete wall, with its water spray system, looked barely adequate to me, given the height of the wall in relation to the height of the ash heaps, and the number of spray heads, but I am no expert.

Overall, the visit was instructive, but for me reinforced the point that day-to-day management is crucial in keeping emissions down. It was a quiet day at Tilbury with the plant switched off, little traffic and damp conditions. I wonder how operators in the dry, open and windy conditions in Marston Vale would perform ??”

“Very much agreeing with what others have said, I found it to be a well managed system, appropriately sited in the industrial wasteland of decaying Tilbury docks. Just as in the previous visit to the Lakeside incinerator, notwithstanding the much improved science and management of hazardous wastes, there are appropriate places to put heavy industrial activities and residential Marston Vale does not appear to me to be at all appropriate.”

Covanta responded to the issues raised – please click here to view.