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New Waste Protocol for the Production and Reutilisation of PFA and FBA Launched

Today the Environment Agency launched a quality protocol for the production and utilisation of Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) and Furnace Bottom Ash (FBA) from coal-fired power stations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland . This document sets out criteria whereby PFA and FBA may be deemed not to be waste and instead be used for bound applications (ie those where the material is bound in a solid matrix) such as cement and concrete manufacture, plastics, grouting, secondary aggregates etc. It is claimed that the new protocol will, each year, divert approximately 300,000 tonnes of PFA and FBA from landfill, save businesses £5 million, largely due to landfill charges, create markets worth over £8.5 million, save 15,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions and help save over 425,000 tonnes of virgin raw material.

PFA and FBA are produced in coal-fired power stations. It was the disposal of PFA from Didcot ‘A’ Power Station that gave rise to the destruction of many of the Radley Lakes culminating in the ultimately successful the campaign to save the last of them from this fate. Hitherto PFA and FBA had automatically become waste as soon as they were produced, and thereby became subject to stringent waste regulations under the European Waste Directive. During the recent 4-year campaign to save the Radley Lakes, this had been identified as a significant factor responsible for the need to send so much PFA to landfill. While it had been possible for PFA to be recycled, this had required ad hoc protocols to be developed and produced, a generally costly and time consuming process that was very dependent upon the attitudes of the local Environment Agency offices. This would have militated against all but the largest-scale projects for which PFA was the only suitable material available and where the additional costs could be justified.

Local scientists and Save Radley Lakes campaigners, Dr Basil Crowley and Dr Peter Harbour, contributed, in a consultative capacity, to the development of the protocol. The protocol, and its associated reports and publicity documents are vindications of the position taken by Save Radley Lakes campaigners, and reiterate many of the arguments they gave as to why PFA should not necessarily be regarded as waste. The new protocol and accompanying technical report unequivocally identify PFA as a valuable industrial resource, one that will diminish into the future as coal burning in the UK declines. They highlight the many advantages of allowing it to be more readily recycled into other applications in construction and manufacturing, as opposed to insisting that it is disposed of into landfill.


It is impossible to say what effect such a protocol would have had, had it been in place in 2004. There is no doubt that the amounts of PFA going to landfill would have been smaller and the case, put by RWE npower, that they had no alternative but to dump so much of it into Radley Lakes, would have been very much weaker. On the other hand, it would be nice to think that the campaign, by raising awareness of the underlying issues, was instrumental in the instigation of the protocol itself.


A protocol for the use of PFA in unbound applications, eg landscaping, embankments etc, remains under development.


Related Links

WRAP Press Release 04 October 2010

Environment Agency – PFA and FBA Quality Protocol

Save Radley Lakes report on the utilisation of PFA from Didcot Power Station (pdf)

More info about PFA on this website

Permanent link to this article: http://www.radleyvillage.org.uk/new-waste-protocol-for-the-production-and-reutilisation-of-pfa-and-fba-launched/