Issues on waste incineration

SIR - Regarding Devon County Council's public presentation this week in Barnstaple about the incinerator proposed for Seven Brethren Bank, may I suggest that the following issues are given serious consideration by your readers: 1. As both the Conservative

SIR - Regarding Devon County Council's public presentation this week in Barnstaple about the incinerator proposed for Seven Brethren Bank, may I suggest that the following issues are given serious consideration by your readers:1. As both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats have policies of putting a moratorium on incineration as a method of waste disposal, it seems reasonable to query why the Barnstaple incinerator project has been proposed by Devon County Council - and also supported by the Executive of NDDC.2. Given DCC's policy of increasing recycling rates in the county, coupled with the likely increase in demand from industry for recycled materials as inevitable world resource shortages kick in (especially when peak oil production is reached), is there going to be enough residual waste to supply the Barnstaple incinerator over its 30 year life?3. If the volume of waste isn't likely to be enough, then can one justify the huge capital investment involved in building the incinerator (approximately �40 million) and the running costs of �6 million-plus per year?4. Given that an incinerator produces large amounts of carbon emissions (likely to be around 45,000 tonnes of CO2 per year in the case of Barnstaple) and that carbon taxes are bound to be more stringent in the face of climate change, shouldn't incineration be rejected as an option on environmental grounds?5. Although modern incinerators incorporate sophisticated filter systems to stop dangerous, cumulative toxins such as dioxins from entering the atmosphere and the food chain, evidence indicates that not all dangerous emissions are prevented (often because of malfunctions), and such experts as toxico-pathologist Dr Veryan Howard argue that the threats to human health are so serious from toxic emissions (causing cancers, brain damage, birth defects etc) that incinerators are not an acceptable option. 6. The ash which is produced through incineration is also highly toxic and has to be disposed of through landfill or for use in road construction, thus opening up the possibility of contamination - for example, through wind-blow, by entering groundwater or through break- up of road surfaces. 7. The Energy-from-Waste incinerator planned for Barnstaple would be very inefficient. Studies done in the USA indicate that far more energy is saved by recycling materials than from energy produced from incineration. 8. There are viable and generally cheaper alternatives to incineration as a way of dealing with residual waste. Apart from methods which minimise waste and maximise recycling rates, there are various processes under the general heading of Mechanical Biological Treatment which mechanically break down waste to recover recyclable materials and which treat biological waste to produce such products as compost and biogas, thus reducing landfill to a minimum, stable material. Such processes have been established or are being planned by local authorities in the UK - for example, in Wakefield, Tyneside, Glasgow, Bradford and Hereford - and they can provide local employment.P.Hames, Northam


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