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Environment Agency publishes its findings into October 2023 power outage at the Beddington ERF

24 May 2024

The Environment Agency (EA) has published its findings following an investigation into the likely impacts of a power outage that occurred at the Beddington Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) on 16 October 2023.

The report concludes that no significant pollution is likely to have been caused as a result of the incident, but that the potential for a minor environmental impact cannot be ruled out. The EA has served Viridor with Non-Compliance Scores of 4 (a non-compliance which could have a minor environmental impact) for each of the three permit breaches identified. These relate to:

  1. The EA not being immediately notified of the power outage
  2. Limitations within the ERF’s management system pertaining to the maintenance and associated pressure checks on the accumulator (the faulty piece of equipment identified as the root cause of the ERF not entering into back-up mode (or ‘Island Mode’) when the power failure occurred)
  3. Failings in the operating procedures that prevented the plant from being able to shut down in a controlled manner following the power failure, resulting in a temporary loss of combustion control and emissions abatement systems

The EA will issue Viridor with a Warning Letter. 

A full copy of the EA’s Compliance Assessment Report (CAR) can be found here: EPR Compliance Assessment Report (links to downloadable PDF file).

The South London Waste Partnership welcomes this report from the EA. It is clear that the EA and Viridor have both conducted comprehensive and robust investigations into the causes and likely impacts of the incident that occurred on 16 October 2023.  

The SLWP will continue to monitor Viridor’s response to the EA recommendations carefully. The Partnership boroughs will use all the contractual and regulatory mechanisms available to them to ensure the Beddington ERF operates at the highest possible standards and continues to provide a safe and environmentally sustainable waste treatment solution for residents of the four boroughs.