Smoke from the power station is harmful for health

Mahon central power station and health

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Reducing pollution emissions is a question of health as well as being a statutory obligation. The news which was published on Monday 13 November warned that the Central Government in Madrid does not accept changing the fuel of the central power station. This requires further explanation.

For some time negotiations have been going on with Endesa concerning the central power station that generates electricity for Menorca to change and use gas brought in by boat, instead of burning gasoil and fuel oil. This would permit significant savings in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions (about 30%); in SO2 (sulphur dioxide) emissions (100%); in NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions (50%); and particles (100%).

This would seem to be a good way for a transition to an energy supply which aims to increase renewables, but equally requires a power station to supply energy as necessary. The hope is that in a few years technologies such as hydrogen, obtained from the sea water, will be available producing only water vapour in the combustion process.

The problem is that emissions which pollute the atmosphere affect the planet as well as the health of humans. Everyone knows the effect on climate change and recently a study from the National Centre of Epidemiology has been published where Mahon is marked out as one of the areas most affected by carcinogenic substances as well as Alcudia with the Es Murterar power station.

Reduction of the emission of polluting substances is, also, a legal obligation. In 2020, the power station of Mahon would be outside the legal limits if no significant rationalisation is made. The option to change the fuel oil and the gasoil now for gas seems to be a good solution. But, Endesa has for a long time been taking another course of action which does not seem to be so good.

The idea would be for the company to install some filters in the chimney to capture a large part of the pollutants. But these filters ought to be cleaned constantly with water, which would then be thrown away into the sewage. This would send pollutants in significant quantity into the public sewage purification plant of Mahon-Es Castell, which is not made for treating these sorts of substances.

So, if the proposal of fitting filters were to be carried out, the problem generated by a private company would be transferred to a public installation. The water of the sewage plant could not be used again and the waste thrown into the sea would add new pollutants. This is not an acceptable solution.

Now, the central power station of Menorca is responsible for approximately 60% of the emissions of CO2 of the island. And let us remember that we have only 3% of the island`s energy supply from renewable sources. If this were increased then it would help to reduce the activity of the central power station.

But the extension of the solar park of Son Salomó, which could mean reaching an increase of 20% in renewables, has been paralysed for a long time by Madrid, because the Ministry of Industry has to authorize the connection of solar energy generated to the electric substation of Ciutadella.

GOB hopes that the Balearic Government continues its political work to try to improve the worrying situation of the Menorcan central power station; that the Members of the Parliaments in Madrid manage to free the Central Government procedures from obstacles (in order that the Central Power Station can function with gas and can allow Son Salamó to be extended); and that institutions that have to authorise whatever modification always put general interest first.