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Environmental Management at Drezdenko, Poland

In today’s tough market, adhering to environmental legislation is an exacting business and one that is increasingly of interest to the public, the foundries and their clients, and the governments that make the regulations that they must meet. 

Victaulic, the high quality castings company, owns and maintains foundries in China, Mexico, Poland and the USA, and employs more than 3,500 people worldwide. 

The company’s European foundry is located in Drezdenko (Poland), just 100km from the German border and employs 450 highly qualified foundry professionals. The recently modernised facility uses technologically advanced Disamatic pouring equipment for fast order responses and the ability to make multiple pattern changes in short order, in ductile iron, for a range of custom castings clients across Europe.
Ensuring that Victaulic meets and exceeds the demands of European environmental legislation is the primary responsibility of Dorota Laluk, who joined the company in 2008 as environmental protection officer and today manages a team of five personnel, including two maintenance workers, a foreman and an environmental clerk.

Laluk has a background in environmental protection in the private and public sectors and is a trained sanitary engineer with specialised skills in water and sewage technology. She also holds postgraduate qualifications in environmental and administrative law. In this interview she discusses the major issues that affect her professional life as an environmental protection officer in one of Europe’s most modern iron foundries. Here she gives Foundry Trade Journal readers an insight into her role. 

What is a typical working day for you at Victaulic?
A typical day for me involves a combination of supervising the environmental team and monitoring environmental management at the foundry, as well as working on environmental aspects of future Victaulic investment projects. I am also closely involved with the local authorities and governmental agencies regarding future planning. 

I attend and arrange regular meetings with external companies involved in the preparation of environmental documentation, studies and measurements, and I review amendments in legal regulations.

What is the working philosophy in your environmental department?
At Victaulic we believe that there are no areas of a plant that cannot be made more environmentally friendly and our goal is to continuously initiate and implement improvements to all our environmental credentials. 
This is a real challenge that inspires us and motivates us to ensure that the impact of increased production and our technological advances are confined to the limits of our facility.

Are there benefits to working for a global castings company like Victaulic?
Victaulic has high quality foundries in China, Mexico, Poland and the USA. The support that I get from my global colleagues mainly relates to the planning of new investment projects. I receive extensive recommendations and advice on the direction and manner of implementation of subsequent stages of projects which, upon completion, directly impact elements of the natural environment. On the other hand, I also try to familiarise my global colleagues with local legal regulations and administrative procedures here in Poland that must be taken into consideration in any investment process. 

What are the greatest challenges that you have recently faced?
The Victaulic European foundry is a 10 hectare/24.7 acre site employing over 400 highly qualified specialists from the casting trade, and it is very important to minimise disruption to production when making any changes. 
We have recently implemented a lot of improvements, including a new waste management programme based on a new system including improved segregation of waste material and outsourcing of waste disposal. We have also initiated a programme of continuous departmental training.

At the same time we have introduced a monitoring system for wastewater and sewage. Newly installed equipment now allows us to accurately measure quantities of water drawn and sewage generated in our facility. We have inspected the technical condition of both the water supply and the sewage disposal systems and have requested expert advice. This gave us the technical basis to embark on a project aimed at a thorough reconstruction and modernisation of the water supply and sewage disposal systems, including the installation of a rainwater decanter dust extraction system. This system is being built step by step without impacting production in our foundry.

We have also recently updated our foundry operating permit to reflect amendments in local environmental legislation, and the extensive modernisation at the Drezdenko foundry in the past five years.

Do you think recent changes at the Victaulic foundry have led to demonstrable benefits for the surrounding areas?

Absolutely, one of our most recent investment projects - upgrading the sand recycling system at the foundry - has produced tangible benefits for our immediate neighbours. They understand what we have delivered, and we can now count on their greater understanding when new projects are being implemented in the future. Victaulic is a good neighbour that prides itself on the trust it has built and earned with the local community. 

Just down the road from the Drezdenko Foundry is a Natura 2000 area, a piece of protected countryside of outstanding scientific value that is a dramatic reminder of how we must work within extremely sensitive parameters.

What are the main European and regional directives that you must meet in your work?
The main European directives are the Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of September 24, 1996 on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (96/61/EC), referred to as the IPPC directive. 

In accordance with this directive, the Victaulic foundry in Drezdenko is referred to as an IPPC installation, and due to the nature of its business it has been classified as a ferrous metals foundry with a production capacity in excess of 20 tons of melt per 24 hours. Any such facility, in the light of this directive, needs an integrated permit, a sort of special license, to run its business. 

Equally important are the main Polish environmental directives. These laws are just like those in other European countries. The main regional directive that we follow in our work is the Polish Act on the Protection of the Natural Environment. This provides rules about how the natural environment in Poland can be used, and establishes the country’s national environmental policy. There are other lower level regulations that define the manner in which water, air, and land can be used, and these laws define our detailed procedures and policies. 

Is there a lot of variation between Poland, EU and US environmental legislation?
In my opinion there are fundamental differences between environmental legislation in Poland, EU and US.
The main differences are as follows: 
• Polish national law must comply with EU directives. Obviously no such compliance exists for US legislature.
• Polish environmental law is uniform in character and enforced across the entire country, irrespective of its administrative division. In the US certain regulations may vary from state to state. 
• Owing to compliance with EU directives, Poland has at its disposal certain legal tools such as the integrated permit and environmental Directives, a collection of many administrative directives, which the US legislature does not have. 
• Due to a rather complex system of central government and local government administrations we have several environmental authorities and bodies that are involved in a single environmental decision-making process. The US administrative system seems quite different in this respect. 

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