Water, Soil & Waste

Water is a unique resource and its management raises issues on an international level across many areas of society. As the downstream oil industry handles water in comparable volumes to hydrocarbons, water is integral to the operations of the industry.

Therefore, effective management of water is essential and concerns the amounts taken in, the amounts consumed and the quality of returned discharges.

Since the founding of Concawe, great progress has been made towards improving water quality in Europe. Refineries have played their part in this, with substantial reductions in discharges and improvements in effluent quality leading to large reductions in the quantities of pollutants discharged to surface waters. Concawe maintains a watching brief on the issue of water supply and availability, which are addressed in both the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).

Areas of focus for Concawe currently include: the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) of the WFD, as well as, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and the associated Directives on Groundwater Protection and Environmental Quality Standards (EQS); the concepts of Whole Effluent Assessment as developed by OSPAR (Commission for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic); and the impacts of chemical policies, such as REACH, upon water quality. Concawe is also providing input to the BREFs (Best Available Technique REFerence documents) revisions, insofar as these are relevant to the oil industry’s activities under the IED. Concawe also follows developments in contaminated land legislation and the EU Thematic Soil Strategy.

European waste legislation was revised in 2008 with the adoption of a new Waste Framework Directive (WsFD), which sets out measures to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing adverse effects from waste generation and management. The legislation includes a waste definition and a hierarchy that aims to achieve a reduction in waste disposal. Concawe is closely monitoring the implementation of the WsFD and its transposition into National Legislation.

The impact of good water, soil and waste management on emerging issues such as “Global Warming” and “Biodiversity” should not be underestimated. Considerable efforts will be required of the oil industry in these areas in the foreseeable future and Concawe intends to play an important role in developing sound science to address these issues.

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