The waste treatment plant at Pentakomo is back in the news, after the joint venture running the facility has written directly to President Nikos Christodoulides complaining about a total lack of cooperation from governmental agencies while also sounding the alarm about potential health hazards.

In the missive to the president, the joint venture known as Medcon & DB Technologies JV alleged that the Department of the Environment has repeatedly denied green lighting a final licence for the facility, which began operating back in 2017.

Their main complaint relates to the department’s refusal to grant a licence for management of the secondary fuel produced at the plant.

Medcon also claims that a state of confusion exists where one governmental agency issues instructions for the burial of the secondary fuel, only for another agency to deem these instructions unlawful.

The joint venture warned that, unless a solution is found, the companies operating the plant face financial ruin – ultimately resulting in the failure of the project itself.

The operation of the Pentakomo facility was intended to end the burying of municipal waste from the Limassol district. But now, six years on, the majority of the processed waste is ending up in landfills anyway as there are no takers for the product (the secondary fuel) produced there.

Another matter raised by the joint venture relates to the high concentration of heavy metals – mostly nickel and chromium – in the solid waste coming into the treatment plant.

This high concentration, they say, limits the production of biogas by the facility’s anaerobic units, which also restricts the electrical and thermal energy generated and thus subverting the plant’s economic model.

The findings of an investigative committee into the Pentakomo plant – plagued by problems since its inception – were submitted to the cabinet on November 15. The cabinet decided to forward the findings to the attorney-general to determine whether any disciplinary proceedings are warranted.

Earlier reports meanwhile suggested the government was mulling terminating the contract awarded to Medcon.

In this context, the joint venture’s letter to the president may have been intended as an attempt to limit their liability.

The operation of the Pentakomo plant has been described as a fiasco. Initially the facility was supposed to generate Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF).

But the technology for the plant was changed after the contract had been awarded – in what was said to be a blatant irregularity. The mechanical biological treatment of municipal waste stipulated in the tender specs was replaced by what is known as anaerobic biological treatment.

This treatment technique could not produce SRF as the project specs had stipulated, but produces Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) which has a high moisture content and a low calorific value that renders it a poor alternative source of fuel. With no takers for the RDF, the Pentakomo plant has been burying all the treated waste, engaging in the practice it was set up to end.

Following the report, the Green Party issued a statement saying that the matter was a “very serious issue”.

They said that the issue between the state and the company managing the Pentakomo facility has entered its sixth year, and that the gap is “unbridgeable” consequently causing other problems.

One of the main issues the party highlighted was the high levels of humidity created at the Pentakomo facility, due to the large amount of organic waste that is brought there, and unable to be turned into biogas.

They called on the government and the company to find a solution based on mutual interest and to protect the environment.