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Fortum downplays environmental fears over ash processing plant

Fortum says that waste water discharged from a planned ash processing plant would be minimal and would not harm the environment.

Energiayhtiö Fortumin pääkonttori.
Image: Linda Manner / Lehtikuva

Locals in Pori say they are concerned that energy company Fortum's proposed Mäntyluoto ash processing plant would discharge waste water into the the Baltic Sea off the coast of the southwest Finland city.

The firm says however that discharge from the plant is likely to be minimal and would not endanger the environment.

The proposed processing plant would recycle usable materials such as metals and slag gravel out of the ash produced by incineration at waste-to-energy (WTE) plants.

The process would use salt water and discharge it back into the sea offshore from the Yyteri area. Fortum said that the Mäntyluoto plant would be the largest such facility in Finland and would treat ash produced by all of the country's WTE plants since the ash cannot be disposed of in landfills.

Fortum has said that it wants to compensate for the potential environmental impact of the ash processing plant, but a site for cooperation has not yet been chosen.

Local opposition to plans

During the summer, Pori locals established a 'clean sea movement' that opposes the energy firm's discharge plans.

The group has called for the ash refinery to use a closed system that would not discharge waste water into the sea. At the beginning of October, Fortum received permission to experiment with a closed system at Mäntyluoto. If the closed system proves to be technically functional, waste water wouldn’t need to be released into the sea, the firm says.

Municipal authorities are currently awaiting a decision on the ash refinery and whether it will be allowed to start up.

Fortum, Finland's largest energy company, is majority state-owned.

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