This paper examines recent evidence from Denmark an d abroad regarding climate change projects that aim to reduce global carbon dioxide e missions by converting coal-fired thermal power plants to solid biomass fuel. The paper argue s that projects appear to be pursued narrow-mindedly with insufficient attention paid to safety and points to evidence of media shifting - that the ‘resolution’ of a problem within the environmental domain creates a new problem in the workplace safety domain. From the perspective of inherent safety the paper argues that the conversion is a step in the wrong direction as a lo w risk fuel is substituted for a less safe one. Because of rapid scale-up and handling of unprecedented quantities, solid biomass qualify as an emerging risk for which proper control strategies h ave yet to be developed. The paper finally argues that the tendency to prioritize environmental benefits over safety concerns seems to run deep and not confined to the realm of only solid biomass. Danish environmental ambitions are very high and the costs to society of introducing solid biomass fuels are breathtaking. In this setting, the general failure to address safety risk s appears particularly disheartening.
Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 2014, Vol 21, Issue 5, p. 1410-1427