The operators of the waste treatment facility in Pentakomo, where waste is converted to Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF), are reportedly facing a €3 million fine for the delay in starting up.
At the moment, the Pentakomo plant is undergoing a test run. The facility is expected to go fully operational later this month, but the project was supposed to have been delivered in January – a delay of almost 10 months.
In the meantime, still vexing the government is the problem of dispensing with the fuel by-product generated at Pentakomo.
Initial samples of SRF produced at the plant have shown to be below the contract specifications, daily Politis reports.
The SRF was supposed to generate no less than 13 Megajoules (MJ) of energy per kilogram, and with a moisture content no greater than 20 per cent.
So far the samples analysed have yielded a calorific value slightly higher than the specified 13MJ/kg. However, the same samples showed a moisture content of around 25 per cent. With SRF, higher moisture content indicates inferior quality.
Until the time of launch, Pentakomo will be making modifications and tweaks to its equipment to ensure it meets the specifications.
Should the Pentakomo operators satisfy the specs, then under the contract with the government, it is the government which has the responsibility to make arrangements to dispose of the SRF. This means the government could also be saddled with any costs arising from any such arrangements.
If the specs are not met, the government is out of the picture and the operators will have to enter into a direct arrangement with SRF buyers.
However, the Vasiliko Cement Works – likely the sole viable candidate to receive the SRF from Pentakomo – is now asking the government to pay it €50 per tonne to dispose of/burn the fuel by-product.
Back in 2014 – when the government announced the plans for the SRF disposal method and was supposed to invite tenders from interested parties – Vasiliko wanted only €3 per tonne to dispose of SRF.
This was on condition that the SRF provided would be at least of 13MJ quality. If the SRF were of 15MJ quality and over, Vasiliko had then proposed to take it for free.
It’s understood that Vasiliko is currently asking for a higher price as it has realised the government has nowhere else to turn to.
The Pentakomo facility is expected to generate some 50,000 tonnes a year. Other than Vasilikos, there are no other industrial outfits on the island with the capacity to accommodate and make use of such volumes.
According to sources apprised of the issue, Pentakomo itself has the capacity to store only 15 days’ worth of SRF on its premises.
Given that the waste treatment plant is poised to start operating by month’s end, the same sources said, it’s a foregone conclusion that the government’s only option is to come to an arrangement with Vasilikos – and fast.
Unless it finds domestic buyers, the government will be forced to export the SRF – but is being pressured not to by the European Commission due to concerns over the carbon footprint.
How matters came to this will be the subject of an investigation by a commission of inquiry to be appointed soon by the attorney-general.
Last week the government, which previously had empanelled its own committee to probe the affair, rescinded that decision and deferred to the attorney-general.
Contacted on Monday, attorney-general Costas Clerides told the Cyprus Mail that the panel will likely consist of three members.
The commission’s terms of reference – which will be broad both in terms of scope and timeframe – are in the process of being prepared, he said.
Rubbish from Nicosia is deposited at the Kotsiatis landfill.
Another headache for the government is that the operators of the waste-processing plant at Koshi, Larnaca are refusing requests to receive waste from Nicosia.
The Koshi facility currently serves the Larnaca and Famagusta districts. It converts waste to compost.
For their cooperation, the plant’s operators, Helector, are demanding amnesty and the dropping of all charges against them.
The company is a defendant in an ongoing trial where public officials have already pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and turning a blind eye while Helector overcharged municipalities.