Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Burning ambitions

South Tyneside Council has launched it's consultation process covering the new Draft Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy which will take us to 2020. Among the commonsense "three R's" (reduce, reuse, recycle) proposals, the council is raising the subject of incineration.

South Tyneside Council has entered into a partnership agreement with Gateshead and Sunderland councils to establish the new waste strategy.

Incineration is proposed as one of the possible methods of disposal for the waste which we cannot (or we can't be bothered to) recover. Since the terms 'incineration' and 'burning' aren't easy to sell, the process comes under the wizzy euphemism of "Energy from Waste" (EfW) or "energy recovery".

If incineration is selected there's a rumour that the preferred site is on the site of the former incinerator at Wrekenton, on the border between Gateshead and Sunderland, although it should be noted there is no official documentation supporting this.

So soon after seeing off the industrial park on the green belt at Fellgate, and the rehabilitation of the Monkton cokeworks site it seems that residents in that part of South Tyneside may be faced with another dark environmental cloud. Not to mention the people in the Wrekenton area who thought they'd seen the last of local waste incineration.

Dioxins are a pretty nasty bunch

Incinerators release dioxins and heavy metals, which can cause cancer, birth defects and endometriosis.

The rise of endometriosis – a painful condition possibly afflicting as many as ten per cent of British women – is linked to emissions of dioxins. British mothers carry in their breast milk levels of dioxins which significantly exceed the World Health Organisation’s recommended “tolerable daily intake”, partly due to the widespread incineration of hazardous waste.

Studies have repeatedly linked dioxins to both breast and testicular cancers.

A study by the US Environmental Protection Agency suggested that as many as 7 per cent of all cancers are caused by dioxins, mostly from incinerators.

Progressives - the crazy bunch?

At the East Shields CAF meeting on the 5th July Progressive Councillor and Progressive Party leader Jim Capstick nailed his colours firmly to EfW (yes, that's incineration) as his party's preferred method of disposal for the waste designated as 'unrecoverable'. The Draft Waste Strategy concedes that incineration "will generate additional hazardous waste".

Quite why his party is called 'progressive' is odd. They have lent their support to a practice which will damage the environment and will precipitate a new crisis in public health. The victims will be among the poor and the young. In my understanding this is about as far from progress as you can get.

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