Solvay Rosignano operates safely with no impact on health or environment

We regularly update this webpage. Last update on 17.05.19


Key facts

Some recently published online and broadcast videos and articles inaccurately claim that the white beach and its clear blue water are due to contaminated waste water from the factory

· The site is not polluting the "white beaches", nor its adjacent water

· Water quality consistent with entire Tuscany coast; no ban on bathing

· Discharges contains harmless, naturally-occurring materials

· Site complies with regulations


What are the White Beaches?

The white beaches of Rosignano derive their color from harmless, powdery deposits of limestone, which flow in the water discharge of the site. The blue color of the water is a natural phenomenon caused by the reflection of the sky against the white bottom of the sea.

Solvay wishes to make clear that the site is not polluting the "White Beaches", nor its adjacent waters. It does not discharge any 'free' heavy metals from its production process. The water quality at Rosignano is identical to that of the entire coast of Tuscany.


What is the impact of the plant on the environment?

Discharges from the plant -- as with all industrial sites in the region -- are subject to regular measurements which are publicly available.

The site complies with all applicable regulations, enforced and publicly documented by government authorities who independently verify environmental sampling data.


What about limestone discharges?

The plant uses limestone from nearby quarries as a raw material to manufacture soda ash.  This limestone contains minute, naturally-occurring heavy metals in trace amounts which are “trapped” in the fine particles that the factory discharges.

In this so-called "solid" state, these heavy metals are inert and harmless to humans and to the environment. They cannot be absorbed by living organisms, including fish.  The plant does not create or discharge any 'free' heavy metals from its production activities.


What are the regulations enforced by the Agenza Regionale Per La Protezione Ambientale Della Toscana (ARPAT)?

Please access here ARPART's latest report from 2015.

ARPAT controls the effluents at least four times a year, including for heavy metals, and also conducts complementary checks. The Solvay site monitors its discharged water daily and, every two weeks, submits average results of all the samples to the ARPAT.

The relevant ARPAT report shows that the water quality at Rosignano is identical to that of the entire coast of Tuscany. Analysis by the municipal authority also shows that the water is safe. They check the water quality for bacteria to assess bathing conditions from April through September, as well as for chemical products throughout the year.


Is the open channel to the sea allowed?

Solvay applies European Commission's "Best Available Techniques" (B.A.T.)

Solvay's soda ash process, production and effluents management are fully aligned with the European Commission’s Reference Document on Best Available Techniques (B.A.T.) for the Manufacture of Large Volume Inorganic-Chemicals - Solids and Others industry August 2007. This document states in particular the different methods recommended for effluents management in marine outfalls.

The open channel to the sea is fully in line with the European B.A.T. and was therefore authorized in the site’s environmental permit.

There is no ban on bathing on the “white beaches”, except for the stretch of 100 metres upstream and downstream of the discharge point. This distance is stipulated by law for any type of industrial structure in Italy.


What is the plant about?

This plant, started in 1912, covers an area of 200 ha in Italian city of Rosignano in Tuscany. Solvay employs there 449 direct employees as of January 2017, non counting indirect employment. 

This plant mainly produces soda ash and sodium bicarbonate. It as well supplies peroxides (peracetic acid for water treatment) and high purity H2O2 to its European customers.


How does the plant work?

Please find hereunder an infographic:

How Solvay produces Soda Ash at Rosignano


What is Soda Ash? What products is it used in?

In 1863, Ernest Solvay discovered a new process for manufacturing sodium carbonate using sea salt, ammonia and carbonic acid. This process produced a sodium bicarbonate of high purity, which is used today in many fields: food, feed, health and air pollution control. 



Solvay provides this information, including the links to the publicly available documents, in the public interest. This statement is available in French, Spanish and Italian languages as well.

Italy France

Fabio Novelli

Communications Manager Italy 

Cécile Fages

Solvay Soda Ash & Derivatives
- Communication & Sustainability Director

Solvay Rosignano Panorama