'Incinerators are junk and they kill' - air pollution expert claims

First published in News Stroud News and Journal: Photograph of the Author by , SNJ reporter for Stonehouse and Chalford. Twitter @ChrisWarneSNJ

EMISSIONS from waste incinerators are to blame for child deaths, birth defects, increased cancer rates and heart attacks, according to an air pollution expert who spoke at Hardwicke Village Hall on Wednesday, September 5.
 

Retired GP Dr Dick van Steenis, who has spent 17 years working in toxicology, urged residents to 'rise up' and oppose plans for a £500 million incinerator at Javelin Park, near Haresfield.
 

He said lax regulations in the UK meant populations living downwind of the facilities were being exposed to hazardous levels of PM1 and PM2.5 particles, which he claims are responsible for causing premature infant deaths as well as a host of other illnesses and diseases.
 

Dr van Steenis, who in the past has given evidence to a House of Commons select committee on air quality, said incinerator operators are putting 'company profits before public health' because they are burning waste at temperatures which are too low to fully break down refuse.
 

Alternative waste disposal technologies, like plasma arc gasification, treat waste at higher temperatures and are cheaper and cleaner, Dr van Steenis said.
 

"It is now up to the people to rise up and say enough is enough. We do not want any extra deaths. These incinerators are junk and they kill," he said.
 

Dr van Steenis was invited to talk by parish councillors from Hardwicke and Quedgeley who are opposed to the incinerator. 
 

Ian Butler, chairman of Hardwicke Parish Council, said he felt it was important that residents were given the opportunity to hear an alternative viewpoint on the issue.
 

The Health Protection Agency announced in January that it had commissioned a major new study to look at the potential threat incinerators posed to public health.
 

Preliminary results from that study are not due back until 2014 however - a year after building work is scheduled to start on the Javelin Park incinerator.
 

Cllr Stan Waddington, GCC cabinet champion for waste, said: "The Health Protection Agency's position on energy from waste facilities is clear.
 

"Well run and regulated modern municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk to public health. Energy from waste is a tried and tested technology and there are currently more than 350 operating throughout Europe."
 

Javier Peiro, project director for Urbaser Balfour Beatty - the company hoping to build the plant - said: "We were disappointed that no representative was invited from UBB to provide a balanced discussion of the topics at the recent meeting.
 

"Dr van Steenis has raised his concerns at a number of public inquiries in the country where his evidence on health effects and alternative technologies has been considered but not accepted.
 

"All thermal treatment facilities, including energy from waste and gasification plants preferred by van Steenis, must comply with the same stringent emissions limits.

"Had we have been invited to Dr van Steenis' presentation we would have been able to provide the alternative perspective on energy from waste, which is based on credible evidence rather than scaremongering."

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