Incinerator 'would release toxins'

SIR - With reference to the Barnstaple incinerator proposal, it is interesting to refer back to the 1990s and the campaign to close the Yelland incinerator which burned sewage sludge. As a result mainly of a report prepared by experts experts on behalf of

SIR - With reference to the Barnstaple incinerator proposal, it is interesting to refer back to the 1990s and the campaign to close the Yelland incinerator which burned sewage sludge.As a result mainly of a report prepared by experts experts on behalf of Fremington Parish Council, the incinerator was closed down after the report indicated that dioxins, heavy metals and other highly toxic chemicals were being released into the atmosphere from the incinerator stack. Tests also showed that levels of these poisons were building up in soil and vegetation in the vicinity of the incinerator, and probably over other parts of North Devon and further afield, subject to prevailing winds. At around the same time the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA reported findings of high levels of dioxins in human tissue, and it concluded that even the smallest particles of dioxins could affect human health, after ingestion, inhalation or through skin absorption. The EPA attributed a high probabilty that a whole range of health effects could be linked to these toxins, including cancers, brain damage, neurological damage and birth defects.It is against this background that we should assess the proposed Barnstaple installation because the toxins found at Yelland at that time are very persistent and cumulative in human and animal tissue. A new incinerator, however well the emissions are controlled, would still release a whole range of toxic chemicals in normal operation (many of which cannot be monitored), and even more at times of malfunction, poor operation or human error, and these would add to background levels of toxins in the local environment and population.It should be noted that Devon County officials assured the public at the time that incinerators were so well designed and operated that emissions were kept to safe limits - just as they claim the same today regarding the proposed Barnstaple incinerator.P. Hames, Northam


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