THE Isles of Scilly Council has admitted "historic compliance issues" and "an unacceptable lack of communication" relating to emission breaches by the waste disposal incinerator at the authority's Moorwell management site.
The admission came in a statement from the authority's community relations officer George Pearson.
In apologising for not informing the island public of past emission breaches the council said it was "striving to be transparent" and pledged any further compliance issues would be reported to the council's management team and the general purposes committee.
Reports of the emission breach were recently aired by the islands' radio station, Radio Scilly. It had obtained data from the Environment Agency via the Freedom of Information Act suggesting there had been times when the incinerator emitted chemicals exceeding statutory levels.
The council's consultants, SLR, and the agency said that while "on occasion" emissions had been high "the very low output volume of the incinerator resulted in an insignificant public health risk".
David Mudge of the agency said that due to "longer term non-compliance" the agency had commissioned a health risk assessment.
"This study was shared with Public Health England (HPA as was) and showed that there would be no significant risks."
Andy Street, of SLR, said: "It is true that the emissions were high on occasion from this incinerator which was first commissioned in the 1970s."
Initial assessment of the impact of emissions to air was undertaken in 2009 under the instruction of the Environment Agency, which in turn consulted with the Food Standards Agency. Mr Street said: "These investigations indicated that, even with monitored emissions at their highest, there was no clear risk to human health, because of the small scale of the plant and low volume of waste incinerated."
The islands' council points out there has been no prosecutions since the incinerator was built in 1976. It has been upgrading and operating it "to meet more stringent legislative requirements throughout its long life".
This included the appointment of a compliance manager and implementation control procedures. The data relating to emission breaches follows a decision by the authority to start exporting refuse to the mainland this autumn. A decision on whether to continue incineration has to be decided.
Councillor Sims, chairman of the general purposes committee, said he has asked the Environment Agency to, if possible, provide a summation of non-compliant emissions, if any, to future meetings of the general purposes committee.