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September 9th, 2012:

Health and terrorism fears over new Gloucestershire incinerator

AN incinerator would reduce residents’ life expectancies by 11 years and put the area at risk of a terrorist attack, experts claim.

Plans to build a £500million waste burner at Javelin Park near Haresfield could impact the health of people living within a 15-mile radius, engulfing both Gloucester and Cheltenham, Dr Dick Van Steenis said on Wednesday night.

Description: WARNING:  Dr Dick Van Steenis, middle, with Ian Butler (Hardwicke Parish Council chairman) and Anna Mozul (Quedgeley Parish Council chairman).

WARNING: Dr Dick Van Steenis, middle, with Ian Butler (Hardwicke Parish Council chairman) and Anna Mozul (Quedgeley Parish Council chairman).

The retired GP said his research into areas downwind of incinerators show an increase in baby defects, deaths among babies and deaths from heart attacks and cancer.

Within five years, there would be 1,200 extra deaths and residents would have to foot a £280million NHS bill, according to Dr Van Steenis, who has lectured worldwide about the issue.

Dr Van Steenis said: “It is now up to the people to rise up and say enough is enough. We don’t want any extra deaths. These incinerators are junk and they kill.

“We will start to see babies being born with defects. People should be worried about this. They will come first, and then heart attacks and cancers will follow within a few years.”

Dr Van Steenis recommends the use of plasma units, which he says are a cleaner and cheaper alternative.

He was talking to residents at Hardwicke Village Hall after parish councillors from Quedgeley and Hardwicke joined forces to protest against the plans.

Security risk expert Malcolm Cheshire, a Quedgeley resident of 27 years, warned at the meeting that the incinerator could also make the city a terrorist threat. He said: “Biological, chemical and radiological weapons could be created from certain chemicals and gases that are secreted from the site.”

Gloucestershire County Council’s Cabinet is likely to give a 25-year contract to Urbaser Balfour Beatty on Wednesday.

Councillor Stan Waddington, champion for waste, said: “This deal is good value for Gloucestershire and will help us deliver a green and affordable solution to our rubbish.”

The council hopes to save £190million over 25 years.

A UBB spokesperson said: “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 must comply with the same stringent emissions limits.

“Energy from waste is a tried and tested technology and there are currently more than 350 operating throughout Europe.

“Had we have been invited to Dr Van Steenis’ presentation we would have been able to provide the alternative perspective, which is based on credible evidence rather than scare-mongering.

“The Health Protection Agency’s position is that well run and regulated modern Municipal Waste Incinerators are not a significant risk to public health. All thermal treatment facilities, including energy from waste and gasification plants, must comply with the same stringent emissions limits. Energy from waste is a tried and tested technology and there are currently more than 350 operating throughout Europe.”

They said security measures were already planned.

Athletics coach Paul Wright to quit Hong Kong for sake of son’s health

Pollution forces coach who transformed city’s athletics to leave just four months into contract

Sunday, 09 September, 2012, 12:00am

Richard Castka and John Carney

Description: 59979bcf904b425a55865391cc85a119.jpg

    Paul Wright

    Hong Kong’s athletics coach Paul Wright will leave his post in November after just over two years in the job, amid fears his son’s health problems are linked to the city’s high levels of pollution.

    Since Wright took the job in May 2010, Hong Kong athletics has seen a significant improvement, notably qualifying for the men’s 4×100 metres relay in the London Olympic Games.

    But Wright, 41, said despite being just four months into his two-year contract, his five-year-old son’s health had to come first.

    “[He] has struggled with respiratory infections since we came here so we are prioritising getting him home and well,” said UK-born Wright.

    “Some people have suggested the increased levels of air pollution are to blame, but we’re not sure what the problem is. We just know his immune system isn’t able to cope.

    “Our other three children are fine … but we’ve had one too many visits to the hospital with Caiden coughing up blood. So we decided to do something positive about it.”

    Wright does not yet have another job to go to, but says there are offers on the table. It is likely he will head back to the US, where his wife is from.

    Hong Kong Sports Institute chief executive Trisha Leahy credited Wright for the recent rise in athletic standards.

    “Paul is moving on after a very successful two years … He has been a consistently highly-motivated, positive and professional head coach,” said Leahy.

    Wright and his family are not the first to have been forced to leave Hong Kong because of air pollution recently.

    In May, Canadian Eric Bohm, the 68-year-old chief executive of green campaign group WWF, Hong Kong left after eight years of trying to save the city from environmental degradation.

    One in four people in Hong Kong are now considering leaving due to air pollution, a study by public policy think tank Civic Exchange found last year.

    Last month, Hong Kong choked under the worst smog recorded in the city. Residents were warned to stay indoors, away from the blanket of toxic haze.

    At the same time, roadside air pollution set a new record with the air pollution index hitting 212 in Central, its highest level yet.