Why aren’t our legislators concerned about the possible public health risks of incinerators? The United States acted in 1997

That question was asked this month by a Private Eye journalist who reports that 103 incinerator sites were licensed in 2010 and in 2011 DEFRA had 20 more applications from large power companies. Part of the answer was that there are vested interests seeking the proliferation of incinerators. Apart from the companies involved, a large number of government advisers are involved in the expensive and remunerative incinerator PFI deals.

Stoke incinerator

The Eye’s journalist pointed out that the United States passed laws in 1997 to measure the emissions of smaller particulates which can be absorbed into the blood. They were passed after articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and studies from Harvard Air Effects Institute reported findings that coal-fired power stations and incinerators had a strong association with overall mortality, cardiovascular deaths and lung cancer. 

A report by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee in 2009-2010 asked why the media and medical circles paid no attention to this health risk, pointing out that the costs and health impact of PM 2.5 is estimated to cost up to £20.2bn. 

One application has been made in Herefordshire and Worcestershire 

The Birmingham Post reports that Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has delayed a decision on Mercia Waste Management’s planning application for an incinerator following a public enquiry in November, to consider the implication of the recently published National Planning Policy Framework.  

Worcestershire Residents Against Incineration and Landfill (WAIL) chairman Ray Kirby said, “Mercia will need to involve other councils to fill the incinerator, which will bring waste in from outside the area which does not help its carbon footprint. We would like an anaerobic digestion plant, not incineration. Recycling is on the increase.” 

Private Eye points out that DEFRA’s monitoring procedures are lax 

None of DEFRA’s 62 monitoring stations are anywhere near an incinerator. A whistleblowing emissions tester contacted the Eye with information that PM 2.5 is not continuously measured and private emissions testing firms have no duty to report test failures to the Environment Agency. Repeat testing is done by arrangement with the incinerator companies who can change the type of waste burnt on the test day. It concludes that existing stations should implement the stricter monitoring regime of the United States.


PCU fervently hopes that  Herefordshire and Worcestershire will get an anaerobic digestion plant.

Posted on April 26, 2012, in Civil servants, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Planning, Vested interests and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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