Enel is constantly engaged in the application of the most advanced technology available and the best practices in the construction, operation and demolition phases for its plants, in order to minimize the possible environmental impact of its activities.
Among the various areas of prevention, the highest level of attention is focused on the safeguarding, monitoring and reclaiming of soil, subsoil and subterranean water in the areas occupied by its plants wherever it operates globally.
The safeguarding of these environmental factors guides every single design and management decision for each plant, right from the earliest phases. Active and passive protection and security measures are adopted to impede every possible form of uncontrolled or accidental contact between potentially polluting substances (fuels, reagents, waste liquids and waste) and the soil and subterranean water.
By the same token, while the plant is in operation, every process is subjected to compliance inspections and projects for continuous improvement established by the Environmental Management Systems in order to prevent and minimize the risk of possible environmental contamination events.
In the event of accidents, the application of the Stop Working and Emergency Management Policies aims to prevent or eliminate every possible environmental impact, with the most rigorous respect for the legal prescriptions and requirements for each country.
Once plants reach the end of their life cycle, before proceeding with the demolition and re-designating the area for new development projects, Enel verifies the environmental quality of the soil, subsoil and subterranean waters in and around the plant, in compliance with authorizations and applicable laws in the various countries.
In the event of possible episodes of contamination subsequent to an accidental event or to the inspection of the plant at the end of its life cycle, and on the basis of plans for intervention shared with the competent authorities and supervisory bodies, Enel enacts the characterization of the environmental factors in the areas that may potentially be affected and, if necessary, takes action to secure and subsequently reclaim the area, restoring it to a quality suitable for the designated use for the area (industrial/commercial, residential) in a timely manner.
Special attention is focused on plants that are found in large industrial hubs, with known contaminating features stemming from historic events or episodes that produce pollution and subject to special regulations and inspections by competent authorities (such as Sites of Regional and National Interest in Italy). For these plants, within the areas it owns, Enel characterizes them for possible reclaiming and monitors environmental factors, actively collaborating with the administration for the possible perfection and implementing of coordinated plans for intervention.
In 2018, there were 472 significant spillage episodes, for a total volume of about 250.5 m3. The events were mainly related to thermal electric generation and electricity distribution.
Except for rare spill events from large scale transformers, environmental accidents are mostly small spills where rapid containment and subsequent environmental restoration activities are carried out by a specialized company, according to the procedures imposed by national regulations. To further mitigate the risk related to possession of substances with environmental impacts, several experiments are under way that envisage the use of vegetable oil – which is biodegradable – instead of the traditional insulating mineral oil.