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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Apr;20(4):2070-80. doi: 10.1007/s11356-012-1412-0. Epub 2012 Dec 22.

An assessment of dioxin contamination from the intermittent operation of a municipal waste incinerator in Japan and associated remediation.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan 615-8540.


Significant dioxin (polychlorinated dibenzo-para-dioxins (PCDDs)/polychlorinated dibenzo-furans (PCDFs)) pollution from a municipal solid waste incinerator was discovered in 1997 in Osaka prefecture/Japan. The cause and mechanism of pollution was identified by a detailed assessment of the environment and incinerator plant. The primary sources of PCDD/PCDF pollution were high dioxin releases from an intermittently operated waste incinerator with PCDD/PCDF emissions of 150 ng-TEQ/Nm(3). PCDD/PCDF also accumulated in the wet scrubber system (3,000 μg TEQ/L) by adsorption and water recirculation in the incinerator. Scrubber water was air-cooled with a cooling tower located on the roof of the incinerator. High concentrations of dioxins in the cooling water were released as aerosols into the surrounding and caused heavy soil pollution in the area near the plant. These emissions were considered as the major contamination pathway from the plant. Decontamination and soil remediation in and around the incinerator plant were conducted using a variety of destruction technologies (including incineration, photochemical degradation and GeoMelt technology). Although the soil remediation process was successfully finished in December 2006 about 3% of the waste still remains. The case demonstrates that releases from incinerators which do not use best available technology or which are not operated according to best environmental practices can contaminate their operators and surrounding land. This significant pollution had a large impact on the Japanese government's approach toward controlling dioxin pollution. Since this incident, a ministerial conference on dioxins has successfully strengthened control measures.

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