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Vapo to verify the sizes of all overland flow areas currently in use

Internal inspections of Vapo’s water treatment structures in summer 2013 indicated that there are individual cases where the sizes of overland flow areas deviate from the sizes stipulated by the terms of the relevant environmental permit. In response, Vapo begun a two-phase inspection process in late August to verify the sizes of all overland flow areas and wetlands used at the company’s production sites.

In the first phase, the measurement of the surface areas and verification of the overland flow area structures will be carried out by measuring the size of each overland flow site using aerial photography and confirming the terms of the environmental permit in question regarding the size of overland flow areas and wetlands. Vapo currently has over 500 overland flow areas or wetlands in use. The inspection of aerial photography will be fully completed by the end of October.

Most of the company’s production sites in Finland are now in the on-site survey phase, which is expected to last until mid-November. On-site inspections will be carried out at all overland flow areas that are determined to be smaller than the size specified in the terms of the relevant environmental permit based on an analysis of aerial photography. This will be followed by an examination of the site-specific planning, construction and use documentation in order to investigate the possible reasons for the discrepancies. Vapo will then prepare plans to rectify the discrepancies and submit them to the authorities in charge of environmental permits. Based on the inspections carried out so far, the company estimates that on-site measurement and inspections will be required at over a hundred sites.

According to Pasi Koivisto, Business Area Director for Vapo Peat Products, the company will verify the sizes of all wetlands and overland flow areas. “We will carry out a detailed review of each site with discrepancies in cooperation with the authorities in charge of environmental permits and then implement the required changes. If, at any site, we are unable to increase the sizes of overland flow areas by the end of 2014 due to reasons such as land ownership, and if this results in the overland flow areas in question not satisfying the conditions of the relevant environmental permits, we are committed to reduce production areas, terminate or discontinue production at the sites in question,” Koivisto says.

According to Koivisto, the production sites with deviations from the terms of environmental permits are located in several different parts of the country and the majority of them became operational in the 2000s. At the time, a change in legislation resulted in a very large number of areas already used for peat production becoming subject to new environmental regulations. The responsibility for our operating sites’ compliance with the terms of environmental permits and bringing old production areas in line with current requirements lies solely with us, Koivisto says.

At production sites built in recent years and sites currently under construction, the surface areas of water treatment structures are verified by laser measurement on site. This means that new discrepancies of a similar nature will no longer occur, Koivisto adds. According to Koivisto, Vapo is committed to bringing the water treatment systems of all production sites completely in line with the best current technology and full compliance with the terms of environmental permits by the end of 2014. The recent inspection was aimed at ensuring that this target will be reached.

Vapo has informed the authorities in charge of monitoring compliance with the terms of environmental permits of the ongoing verification measurements. Vapo expects to complete the verification measurements at all of the sites by the end of November.

More information:
– Pasi Koivisto, Director, Vapo Oy, tel. +358 20 790 5829
– Ahti Martikainen, Director, Communications and Public Affairs, tel. +358 20 790 5608