Regulation for Gasification of Garbage in Costa Rica in Final Stage

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Drafting and approving the regulation that would standardize the application of thermal processing of solid waste is now in its final stage.

This was reported by Eugenio Androvetto, director of Human Environment Protection for the Ministry of Health, who explained that the regulation is general and covers incineration processes such as gasification, plasma and pyrolysis.

“Within the category of incineration, there are several options— pyrolysis, gasification, plasma— which are different technologies of thermal treatments. So what the regulation regulates is the characteristic of these technologies and the atmospheric emissions that they are going to have. It is a general regulation,” explained Androvetto.

Another important aspect of the regulation highlighted by Androvetto is that, according to the Law for Integral Waste Management, only what is not recyclable will go to heat treatment so the municipalities will have to continue carrying out recycling campaigns.

“A proposal was worked on for a regulation of incineration to take advantage of the heat capacity of garbage to get energy or force from them,” Androvetto said.

According to the Ministry of Health, one of the points that had to be added to the regulation was to include the participation of the National Technical Secretary (Setena- Secretaria Tecnica Nacional) in the process.

For her part, Marisol Arias, Coopeguanacaste spokeswoman, reported that once the regulation is approved, the cooperative could start to develop their project, which aims to develop a modular plant for the treatment of solid waste through the gasification process.

“Upon being approved, Coopeguanacaste could start developing it because with this regulation, the moratorium drops. Then [the project] would be sent to the presidential house and later the president signs it so it gets published in La Gaceta,” Arias explained.

On June 11, 2014, the government signed a decree declaring a national moratorium on activities of thermal processing of ordinary solid wastes until it is proven that such activities will not cause adverse impacts on health and the environment.

Androvetto explained that the regulation now includes operating conditions and emission control by Setena and the Ministry of Health.

“The regulation was made by an interdisciplinary team, including the Ministry of Health, the air quality committee and the Office of the Ombudsman, among others. Now it is in the process of being signed by the legal and technical teams,” Androvetto indicated.

Arias explained that once the moratorium is repealed by the government, Coopeguanacaste would request environmental viability from Setena and thereafter it would take a year to build the plant.