Camp de Tarragona’s Air Quality Observatory
Camp de Tarragona’s Air Quality Observatory is an initiative led by Repsol in collaboration with AEQT, with technical assistance by several scientific institutions (Rovira Virgili University, Eurecat), all coordinated by the Cerdá Institute. It offers a permanent evaluation of the air quality in the municipalities and neighborhoods of Camp de Tarragona, a contribution to improve the territory’s environment and sustainability. The Observatory reflects the chemical industry’s transparency and responsibility, and seeks to address one of the region’s main social concerns, air quality.
2019 was the second year of the Observatory’s operation. Coverage was extended to 26 monitoring stations in 11 of Camp de Tarragona’s municipalities, improving data quantity and quality. Samples were gathered during 8 to 12 months in order to obtain reliable annual averages of organic airborne compounds in our region’s air.
Apart from the valuable analytical work it performs, the Observatory intends to become an educational tool to foster knowledge, debate and participation by the region’s agents, and seeks to enrich its methodology and establish new challenges in a process of continuous improvement.
Camp de Tarragona’s Air Quality Roundtable
As a sector that is committed to minimizing its impact, guaranteeing good air quality in the region and improving the environment, the chemical industry participates in Camp de Tarragona’s Air Quality Roundtable, sponsored by the Generalitat. AEQT and different chemical companies are represented in this roundtable, along with public institutions, trade unions, economic, academic and research organizations, as well as environmental and community associations.
Advancing towards a circular economy
One of the joint projects in which our companies have been able to exploit their synergies has been water recycling, a step towards a circular economy. By the end of 2012 the urban wastewater regenerating plant came online, and Tarragona´s chemical industry has been using a growing percentage of regenerated water in its processes, reaching over 15% for the first time in 2019.
But the will of the industry has always been to go further, and it is in this context that it is necessary to place the construction of a new industrial wastewater treatment plant, even more efficient, which is expected to enter into operation in 2021.
This new plant, which will have a capacity of 1,800,000 liters/h. during the 24 hours, with the possibility of future extensions, will allow to fulfill the new European exigencies of the BREF CWW (Common Waste Water) and of the refinement. This new regulation affects the wastewater of each company individually, but once again the companies that make up the chemical and petrochemical sector of Tarragona have opted to work together.
According to the plant’s design, water treatment will not only be capable of regenerating industrial wastewater, but will also enable its reuse in industrial processes. The chemical industry has been regenerating and reusing urban wastewater and will now be able to do the same with its own industrial wastewater. The industry’s objective is to increase recycled water use from its current rate of 15% to 25% by 2025.
Odor Control and Monitoring
Aware of the discomfort – and even alarm– that odors can generate in Camp de Tarragona’s population, AEQT and its member companies have been working for years on odor-monitoring projects. The aim is to detect odors, determine their origin and, if generated by the chemical industry, implement solutions to eliminate them.
In 2005 AEQT signed a first agreement with the URV Foundation to initiate odor monitoring. In 2010, they joined forces with the Chemical Park Emergency Services in Nassap, an odor monitoring project for Camp de Tarragona, developed by the Eurecat technological center. Nassap is a citizen-participation program in which previously trained volunteers can inform about odors through a mobile application.
The application geo-locates volunteers the moment the information is sent; the coincidence in the same area and at the same time of several records indicates the presence of an odor, and measures to detect its origin can be implemented, including an analysis of meteorological conditions.
This information is complemented with Chemical Park Emergency Services firemen patrols, either as part of their regular routine or as a response to a specific episode.
Committed to Inform
On the other hand, in the agreement between AEQT and the Generalitat de Catalunya’s Department of the Interior, the chemical industry voluntarily decided to inform Catalunya’s Center for Operative Coordination (CECAT) of all operations or incidents that may generate odors.
OCS-Zero Pellet Loss
OCS-Zero Pellet Loss:
No pellets in the environment
As a sector that is committed to environmental preservation and takes responsibility for the impact of its activity, the chemical industry set up Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) over 25 years ago. Its main objective is to prevent plastic pellets from reaching the environment. It is a voluntary program based on responsible management, that fosters the best cleaning and control practices in all plastic pellet handling operations.
All of AEQT’s pellet-manufacturing members adhere to the OCS initiative. In addition, in 2018 the AEQT started the OCS-Zero Pellet Loss project, that establishes procedures to detect pellet spill risk and develops corrective measures. This work group meets periodically, and companies exchange their best practices and solutions to develop and expand OCS’s program. As the work group reaches its conclusions, companies adopt and apply its recommendations, quickly advancing towards the zero pellet loss objective.