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May, 2013:


From: James Middleton []
Sent: 28 May, 2013 00:17
To: Mary OK TANG;
Subject: Microsoft PowerPoint – WPC_USEA_Annual_Meeting_Presentation_-_V21.pdf


Panel on Environmental Affairs

Dear Panel Members,

The world’s largest MSW Malaysian built plasma gasifier is in UK already for 2 weeks and being installed in Teesside.

1,000 tpd MSW per reactor.

See the massive reactor photos herewith.

The second reactor is on order already.

Modular reactors. More waste? Just add another reactor. Build them on the landfills, not pristine islands.

Just 2 ½ years’ for the plant build to commissioning. Technology advances, not ENB style regression.

Add Fischer Tropsch back-end Tech for the Syngas and create bio jet fuel/ marine fuel /bio naptha.

Companies like AirProducts/ Teesside and Solena Fuels build the plants at no construction cost to Governments !

They charge a tipping fee per tonne and sell the aggregate; in addition Solena Fuels sell the bio jetfuels to airlines wef 2015.

APP UK offered Hong Kong a FREE 150,000 tpa gasplasma demo plant in 2012 guaranteed by Technip. No takeup.

Fact ! not ENB devious fiction.

Plasma has no 1/3 by weight incineration ASH residues to landfill ad infinitum in a place where we have no landfill space. ( so we need man-made islands in the sea as ash lagoons)

Minimal emissions vs incineration bonfires.

Plasma residues are inert molten Plasmarok that can be mandated for use in Govt construction contracts to replace imported aggregate and bring building costs / transportation pollution down significantly.

Win-Win ?

Kind regards,

James Middleton


We all breathe the same air as do our children

Download PDF : Microsoft PowerPoint – WPC_USEA_Annual_Meeting_Presentation_-_V21

Chromosomal congenital anomalies and residence near hazardous waste landfill sites

The Lancet, Volume 359, Issue 9303, Pages 320 – 322, 26 January 2002

< >

doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)07531-1 or Link Using DOI

Chromosomal congenital anomalies and residence near hazardous waste landfill sites

Original Text

Dr M Vrijheid PhD a Corresponding AuthorEmail Address, Prof H Dolk PhD b, B Armstrong PhD a, L Abramsky BA c, F Bianchi PhD d, I Fazarinc MD e, E Garne MD f, R Ide MinstAM g, V Nelen MD h, E Robert MD i, JES Scott FRCS j, D Stone MD k, Prof R Tenconi MD l


Previous findings of the EUROHAZCON study showed a 33% increase in risk of non-chromosomal anomalies near hazardous waste landfill sites. Here, we studied 245 cases of chromosomal anomalies and 2412 controls who lived near 23 such sites in Europe. After adjustment for confounding by maternal age and socioeconomic status, we noted a higher risk of chromosomal anomalies in people who lived close to sites (0—3 km) than in those who lived further away (3—7 km; odds ratio 1·41, 95% CI 1·00—1·99). Our results suggest an increase in risk of chromosomal anomalies similar to that found for non-chromosomal anomalies.

EUROHAZCON study findings1 have shown a 33% increase in the risk of non-chromosomal anomalies for residents living within 3 km of 21 European hazardous waste landfill sites. We report findings from the EUROHAZCON study on chromosomal anomalies. EUROHAZCON study methods have been described in detail.1 We obtained data from regional population-based registers of congenital malformations in five European countries. In addition to the regions included previously (table 1), we included data from the England and Wales Down’s Syndrome register, selecting only two regions (Essex 1989—92, and Mersey 1989—93) because resources were insufficient to provide case data with full postcodes for all regions. These two regions were selected because of good collaboration with local environment agencies and presence of hazardous waste landfill sites which conformed to our criteria for inclusion.1 In total, we included 23 landfill sites in 17 study areas (table 1). Details of site characteristics have been published.2 One landfill site included in the non-chromosomal part of the study was excluded because geographical site co-ordinates proved incorrect. Exclusion of this site (study area 14) did not change findings published for non-chromosomal anomalies: the odds ratio for living within 3 km of a landfill site including site 14 was 1·33 (95% CI 1·11—1·59) for non-chromosomal anomalies.1 After exclusion of site 14 this estimate was 1·34 (1·12—1·60).

Click to open table

Table 1Table imageOpens in a new browser window

Odds ratios for chromosomal anomaly in residents within 3 km of a hazardous waste landfill site

On a-priori advice of landfill specialists, we defined a 0—3 km proximate zone around each site to represent the zone of most likely exposure.1 This zone was compared with a 3—7 km distant zone. We defined cases as livebirths, stillbirths, and terminations of pregnancy with chromosomal anomalies (International Classification of Disease [ICD] 9 codes 7580—89) registered on malformation registers. Controls were normal live births, around two per case, selected from the same year of birth and 7 km study area as the case.1 In the Essex Region (study areas 16 and 17), controls were selected by random selection of two neonates from all normal births on the day after the birth of the case, within the same 7 km study area. In the Mersey region (study area 18), controls were a random sample of all live births in the same year of birth and study area as the case. These different methods were used in order to obtain complete maternal age information for controls. In analyses we used the total pool of controls selected for non-chromosomal and chromosomal cases in each 7 km study area, giving about 10 controls per hromosomal case. We included a total of 245 cases and 2412 controls. The geographical locations of cases and controls were determined with an accuracy of 100 m or less by use of the mother’s address or postcode of residence at time of birth. The association between distance of residence from the nearest waste site and risk of chromosomal anomalies was analysed with logistic and related binomial regression models. Terms for study area and year of birth, were included in all models, and analyses were adjusted for maternal age and socioeconomic status.1 Distance of residence was fitted as a dichotomous measure (0—3 km and 3—7 km zones) and as a continuous measure only in analyses pooling data over all study areas. We fitted the same continuous distance models as in the non-chromosomal part of the study, including one model in which risk declines exponentially with distance.1, 3

The adjusted odds ratio for living near a site, for all chromosomal anomalies combined, was 1·41 (95% CI 1·00—1·99, table 2). Adjustment for confounding factors increased the crude odds ratio slightly (from an unadjusted odds ratio of 1·32, 0·96—1·81), almost entirely because of adjustment for maternal age. Odds ratios did not vary significantly between study areas (p=0·79). A similiar odds ratio was found for the fifteen study areas on which previous non-chromosomal analyses had been based (table 2). Point estimates of odds ratios for Down’s syndrome and non-Down’s syndrome separately were greater than 1, but were not significant (table 2). Risk did not decline consistently with increasing distance from sites: various models fitting distance as a continuous measure and six distance zones showed no significant trends (p>0·10). Odds ratios were highest in the 0—1 km (1·68, 0·72—3·89) and 2—3 km (1·74, 1·12—2·70) distance zones, and lowest in the 1—2 km (1·08, 0·61—1·93) and 3—4 km (1·05, 0·69—1·60) zones compared with a 5—7 km baseline. In most individual study areas, odds ratios were not significant before or after adjustment for maternal age (table 1). However, numbers of cases were small and 95% CI wide.

Click to open table

Table 2Table imageOpens in a new browser window

Odds ratios for chromosomal anomaly in residents within 3 km of a hazardous waste landfill site

Risk estimates for chromosomal anomalies were similar to those noted for non-chromosomal anomalies,1 in pooled analyses and in individual study areas. This similarity can be interpreted in two main ways. Either landfill exposures are causally related to risk of congenital anomaly and have both teratogenic and mutagenic effects, or the relation is not causal and findings indicate a common bias, or a chance effect in the selection of a common pool of control births. Potential sources of bias, including misclassification of exposure, ascertainment bias, migration bias, and occupational and industrial exposure have been discussed in detail1 and apply to the present findings. The similar increase in risk of chromosomal and non-chromosomal anomalies renders residual socioeconomic confounding unlikely as an explanation for findings as socioeconomic status affects risks of chromosomal and non-chromosomal anomalies differently. We noted higher risks of non-chromosomal anomalies and lower risks of chromosomal anomalies in groups with lower compared with higher socioeconomic status, mainly because of differences in maternal age distribution.4 Maternal age is a confounding factor in analysis of chromosomal anomalies, but adjustment for maternal age shifted odds ratios away from unity. A previous study reported on chromosomal anomalies near waste sites and showed an increased risk (1·46, 1·01—2·01) near sites containing plastic chemicals, following an a-priori hypothesis that plastic chemicals such as styrene might induce chromosomal anomalies.5 More study into the chemical causes of chromosomal anomalies and exposure of residents to landfill sites is needed to interpret our findings.


M Vrijheid and H Dolk wrote the paper and coordinated the study. M Vrijheid did analyses of chromosomal congenital anomaly risk near landfill sites and reviewed the literature. B Armstrong supervised statistical analyses. The other authors took part in protocol design of the study (including advice on data collection, classification of cases, &c), and supplied data from participating registries. All authors contributed to revision of the paper.

Conflict of interest statement

None declared.


We thank colleagues from the participating registries and laboratories contributing data to the Down Syndrome Register. The main study was funded by the EC DGXII BIOMED programme, this work was carried out specifically under a Research Fellowship for M Vrijheid from the Colt Foundation. The sponsors of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report.


1 Dolk H, Vrijheid M, Armstrong B, et al. Risk of congenital anomalies near hazardous-waste landfill sites in Europe: the EUROHAZCON study. Lancet 1998; 352: 423-427. Summary | Full Text | PDF(72KB) | CrossRef | PubMed

2 Vrijheid M. Risk of congenital anomalies in the vicinity of hazardous waste landfill sites. (thesis). London: University of London, 2000.

3 Dolk H, Vrijheid M, Armstrong BEUROHAZCON collaborative group. Congenital anomalies near hazardous waste landfill sites in Europe. In: Lawson AB, Biggeri A, Bohning D, Lesaffre E, Viel JF, Bertollini R, et al, eds. Disease Mapping and Risk Assessment for Public Health. Chichester: Wiley, 1999.

4 Vrijheid M, Dolk H, Stone D, Abramsky L, Alberman E, Scott J. Socioeconomic inequalities in risk of congenital anomaly. Arch Dis Child 2000; 82: 349-352. CrossRef | PubMed

5 Geschwind SA, Stolwijk JAJ, Bracken M, et al. Risk of congenital malformations associated with proximity to hazardous waste sites. Am J Epidemiol 1992; 135: 1197-1207. PubMed

a EUROCAT Central Registry, Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

b EUROCAT Central Registry, Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Belfast, UK

c North Thames (West) Congenital Malformation Register, North Thames Perinatal Public Health Unit, Northwick Park Hospital, London

d Tuscany EUROCAT Register, Unit of Epidemiology, CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology, Pisa, Italy

e Institute of Public Health, Ljubljana, Slovenia

f Funen County Eurocat Register, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

g National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register, The Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, St Bartholomew’s and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London

h Antwerp Eurocat Register, Provincial Institute for Hygiene, Antwerp, Belgium

i France Central East Register of Congenital Malformations, Institut Européen des Génomutations, Lyon, France

j Northern Congenital Abnormality Survey (NorCAS), Maternity Survey Office, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Newcastle, UK

k Glasgow EUROCAT Register, Paediatric Epidemiology and Community Health (PEACH) Unit, Department of Child Health, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

l North-East Italy Registry of Congenital Malformations, Genetica Medica, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

Corresponding Author InformationCorrespondence to: Dr M Vrijheid, Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel St, London WC1E 7HT, UK


Download PDF : sfe_zw_food_service_waste_reduction_ordinance


Download PDF : cd_ordinance

Plea for sweetener in pile of garbage

Hong Kong Standard

A professor at Hong Kong Baptist University says people should be offered rewards to sort household waste because the idea of a levy alone is more a punishment than encouragement.

Kelly Ip

Monday, May 27, 2013

A professor at Hong Kong Baptist University says people should be offered rewards to sort household waste because the idea of a levy alone is more a punishment than encouragement.

Speaking at the City Forum yesterday, biology professor Jonathan Wong Woon-chung said the government “has to propose a clear plan on how to reduce waste, such as offering incentives for the public to handle food waste.

“It can also consider legislation on waste recycling to reduce the burden on landfills.”

But he also said there is need for society at large to reflect on consumerism because reducing waste at source is important.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing last week outlined a 10-year strategy to reduce waste by 40percent.

According to data from the Environmental Protection Department, every person in Hong Kong is dumping an average of 1.27 kilograms of waste each day. Planners want to reduce it to 1kg by 2017 and 0.8kg by 2022.

A levy on householders is a key part of the strategy. That could see households charged from HK$20 to HK$30 every month.

Jonathan Wong also said more than 50percent of waste is dumped into landfills compared to 2percent in Taiwan.

The 2percent is only the remains of waste after treatment at the incinerators,” (i.e. ASH) he explained (and he means by VOLUME not by WEIGHT). “It might be the direction Hong Kong society should consider.” (to pollute the environment and landfill toxic ash and flyash forever)

The government plans to build incinerators, though that may only proceed after a judicial review now under way against its plan to build such a facility on Shek Kwu Chau is finished.

The policy advocacy manager of the World Green Organisation, Angus Wong Chun-yin, said he is worried that the government may not be able to reach its target of reducing household waste by 40percent within 10 years if it relies solely on the successful imposition of a charge.

(Oh really ?

Government planners may also have to look at building more than one incinerator facility to reach the target if a waste-charging system failed, Wong said.

Sai Kung district council member Christine Fong Kwok-shan said Tseung Kwan O residents are bothered by smells from a landfill that should not be expanded.

“The government should consider developing landfills on islands instead of places near residential areas to minimize negative effects towards residents,” Fong said.

Additionally, she said, the government should focus on waste being produced by commercial enterprises and construction sites.

Electric car startup Better Place liquidating after $850 million investment$850-million-investment/

Electric car startup Better Place liquidating after $850 million investment

In 2008, Better Place partnered with Renault to build an electric car and create a system of battery swapping stations, but the concept never gained momentum.

Dan Farber

by Dan Farber

May 26, 2013 7:43 AM PDT Follow @dbfarber

Better Place hoped to transform the energy industry with electric cars and battery switching stations.

(Credit: Better Place)

Better Place wanted to make the world a better place by replacing gas stations with battery switching stations that would remove the driving mileage limitations from electric cars and eventually rid the world of fossil-fuel burning vehicles. But after six years and burning through $850 million, the company is filing for liquidation in an Israeli court.

As reported by the Associated Press, Better Place’s Board of Directors issued a written statement Sunday announcing that the company was winding down.

“This is a very sad day for all of us. We stand by the original vision as formulated by Shai Agassi of creating a green alternative that would lessen our dependence on highly polluting transportation technologies. Unfortunately, the path to realizing that vision was difficult, complex and littered with obstacles, not all of which we were able to overcome.”

In 2008, Better Place partnered with Renault to build an electric car and create a system of battery swapping stations along highways, similar to gas stations. However, the concept never gained momentum, with fewer than 1,500 electric cars operating in Israel and Denmark today.

Shai Agassi, the founder and CEO of Better Place until October 2012, focused the company on serving smaller countries with shorter commutes and high gas prices, such as Israel, Denmark and Japan, as well as states, such as Hawaii.

Better Place had built more than 130 charging stations on four islands in Hawaii, for example, but sold them in March 2013 to OpConnect as part of an effort to reduce costs and concentrate on Denmark and Israel.

Better Place switchable batteries would offer electric cars unlimited range and reduce dependency on oil.

(Credit: Better Place)

Reuters cited a report from Israel Corp., owner of about 30 percent of Better Place, that the company had accumulated a deficit of $561.5 million and was expecting more losses in November 2012. Subsequent efforts to raise more funds were unsuccessful, leading to the shutdown of the company.

In addition to Israel Corp., Better Place investors included General Electric, UBS, HSBC and Morgan Stanley.

City could drown in trash, environment minister warns

Comments: dynamco May 26th 2013 7:41am

Group Machiels /APP UK landfill mining project Belgium
Modular plants can be established at the HKG landfill sites to reverse-mine their contents using plasma gasification technology. Any clay material dropped into the 6000 deg C reactor fuses into molten Plasmarok to be used as inert road aggregate, NO ASH. Plasma vaporizes MSW into molecular form creating a Syngas that can be used to generate electricity or converted into carbon neutral bio-jetfuel/ marine fuel/naptha.
Advanced Plasma Power UK offered to build + finance a free demo plant here to handle 150,000 tons MSW per annum- it could be sited on a landfill. Win-win offer for HKG.
This Govt insists on promoting outdated polluting, life threatening incineration tech- 22% bottom ash and 7% fly ash by weight remain so a 3,000 tpd bonfire would leave 1/3 daily ash that requires to be treated, then landfilled -hence the need to build manmade ash lagoon islands in the sea off Lantao.

82% waste recycling in Italy/40 incinerators closed/117 municipalities adopt Zero Waste policy.
Why not here?

2nd 950 tpd plant confirmed/ Cabinet office signs to buy plant’s electricity.

South China Morning Post

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > City could drown in trash, environment minister warns

City could drown in trash, environment minister warns

Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 12:00am

NewsHong Kong


Minister’s dire prediction comes as residents take to the streets to oppose plan to expand landfills until an incinerator can be built

Hong Kong would be swamped with rubbish if its three landfills were not expanded, the environment chief warned yesterday, as Tseung Kwan O residents took to the streets to oppose the plan. landfills at Ta Kwu Ling, Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O are expected to hit capacity by 2019. The government argues there is no alternative to expanding them until a planned incinerator, tied up in a legal challenge, can be built.

Environment minister Wong Kam-sing said Hong Kong would be “surrounded by rubbish” if the HK$8.9 billion expansion, planned since 2003, did not go ahead. The Legislative Council’s environment panel will discuss the proposal tomorrow.

Sai Kung district councillor Christine Fong Kwok-shan, who represents Tseung Kwan O, said they might lodge a judicial review if the government did not call off the plan. Residents want the landfill closed permanently, saying the smell could be overwhelming and affect their health.

The Tseung Kwan O landfill will be the first to hit saturation point, either next year or in 2015.

About 100 demonstrators marched from Lohas Park to the Tseung Kwan O MTR station, along Wan Po Road.

Wong said further expansion beyond the one planned was unlikely due to the site’s physical limitations.

“On one side it’s a country park, and the land on the other side has been reserved for future [other] use,” he said.

“It’s not that we have to set a deadline for the closure of the landfill. But we can’t see any space to further expand it.”

Wong urged residents living near landfills to consider Hong Kong’s overall interests. “If we don’t expand our landfills, it won’t be long before the city is surrounded by rubbish,” he said.[2]

On average, each Hong Kong person generates 1.36kg of waste a day, compared to 0.77kg in Tokyo and 1kg in Taipei.

The government last Monday unveiled its blueprint for tackling waste, with a target of a 40 per cent reduction in the amount sent to landfill by 2022. Incineration and waste charging are key components of the strategy, but the bill to introduce both is expected to face an uphill battle in the legislature.

Lawmakers rejected a funding request by the previous government for an incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, near Cheung Chau. The proposal has also been challenged in court and a verdict is pending.

Documents submitted to the panel warn that “no matter how hard we work to reduce waste, there will still be inert materials, non-recyclables, construction waste and post-treatment residues that need to be disposed of”.


Waste Management



Waste Management in Hong Kong

Wong Kam-sing


The dirty truth about China’s incinerators

Series: Guardian Environment Network

Previous | Next | Index

Guardian Environment Network

The dirty truth about China’s incinerators

The boom in polluting waste-to-energy plants in China has led to a backlash from residents, including one man’s long-running legal crusade

 incinerator at a plant in Qionghai, Southern Hainan province of China

A Chinese worker controls robotic arms to throw rubbish into an incinerator at a plant in Qionghai, Southern Hainan province of China. Photograph: Corbis

Xie Yong could be called a pioneer. He is one of very few to date to sue a Chinese government agency over its unlawful refusal of requested data. His crusade for change has little to do with civic altruism, however. Xie’s struggle is personal in nature, his actions forced by desperation. He has been battling his son’s paralysis-causing epileptic seizures and mounting health care costs since 2010. His son’s condition, Xie believes, is the result of toxic emissions from an incineration plant near his home.

Xie and his wife, Ma Hongmei, lived in Nantong, Jiangsu province, when Ma gave birth to their son, Yongkang, in 2008. Even before they could celebrate his first 100 days of life, Yongkang’s parents noticed he was not developing normally. He did not laugh like other babies and had trouble seeing and hearing. Most disturbing, he twitched incessantly and could not be placated. Shortly after, he became paralysed. Doctors eventually diagnosed him with cerebral palsy.

During Ma’s pregnancy and in her son’s first two months of life, the family lived a short distance from the local trash incineration plant. The facility’s odorous emissions were constant, but neither Ma nor Xie understood what risks they might be facing. Shanghai Xinhua Hospital determined that Yongkang’s disease was not genetic, but caused by environmental factors during Ma’s pregancy.

Xie researched the science behind incineration emissions and health defects, spoke with experts, and learned that other couples in the village had experienced premature births and stillbirths. The couple concluded that their proximity to the plant, and the constant pollution it spewed, were to blame.

In 2010, Xie sought the assistance of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), a China-based legal aid NGO that provides assistance to citizens and wages legal battles in the name of environmental justice. The centre felt that his story justified legal action and, with Xie’s help, began collecting the evidence needed to build a case against the company that owned the plant, Jiangsu Tianying Saite Environmental Protection Energy Group.

In China’s first personal health-related legal case against a waste incinerator, the Hai’an local court heard the case in September 2010. Xie submitted analysis revealing dioxin concentrations in nearby air that grossly exceeded legal limits; reports documenting the physical condition of plant workers and other children living near the plant; and scientific papers demonstrating a link between dioxin and birth defects. The local judge rejected Xie’s claims, prompting him to appeal to the county court. A county-level trial took place May 2011, with similar results. The court deemed the evidence insufficient and issued a verdict against Xie.

In response to these blows, Xie turned directly to the authorities. He filed a request for emissions data for the plant in question from the local environmental protection bureau, to which he had legal entitlement (read more about China’s open government information laws here and here). His request was denied, on the grounds that releasing data would compromise the company’s business secrets. Xie next asked the provincial level Ministry of Environmental Protection, one administrative level higher, to release emissions reports to him. They, too, turned him down. But he is determined to continue his fight.

Activists like CLAPV’s Liu Jinmei believe that Xie’s efforts “indicate a growing awareness of safeguarding the rights of victims of pollutants”. However, it is hard to know how many individuals with situations similar to Xie’s, but completely unaware of the potentially serious health risks they face, are out there. This is because conditions at Chinese waste-to-energy facilities are by and large shrouded in mystery.

The incineration boom

China did not commission its first waste-to-energy plant until little more than a decade ago. Before 1990, public waste-treatment infrastructure handled less than 2% of the country’s household waste. At the same time, output of inorganic rubbish was marginal.

Rapid change in waste production and management trends occurred in China over the last two decades. China now generates over a quarter of the world’s garbage, at least 250 million tonnes annually. With municipal solid waste (MSW) growing 8% to10% annually, cities are under great pressure to deliver advanced waste-management solutions.

Landfills currently handle roughly half of China’s MSW, while only about 10% is incinerated. Official credo suggests that landfills will continue to play a dominant role. But Beijing’s push to increase the share of burned waste is unmistakable: a central target calls for 30% of MSW to be treated by waste-to-energy incineration by 2030.

Presently, incineration is growing at a feverish pace. Industry insiders and state-run media routinely declare 300 plants will be operational by the time the 12th Five-Year Plan runs its course in 2015. A 2009 study by banking group Standard Chartered found that over one-half of global orders for new waste-incineration facilities came from China.

Information on the number of waste-to-energy plants in China is scarce and, when available, difficult to unpack. Interviews with experts and policymakers rarely converge on a single number, but their guesses routinely fall somewhere between 100 and 200. In an independent, verified assessment I conducted in 2011, I detected at least 155 plants currently operating or under construction. I would not be surprised if plans for new plants have been announced in the three months during which my data has aged.

China’s earliest incineration plants deployed imported grate burn technology common in developed economies. Plant operators quickly found that Chinese MSW generally makes poor feedstock. This is because China’s vast informal sector extracts the most easily burned trash, like paper, wood and plastic. The remaining composition is largely organic waste, too wet to burn without costly pre-treatment or fuel supplements. Technological barriers aside, the price of these technologies also puts them out of reach for China’s second and third-tier cities.

Combined with these practical obstacles, Beijing’s drive to localise environmental technologies helped catalyse (state-funded) development of domestic incineration technologies suited to Chinese conditions. Newer plants prominently feature domestically developed equipment, including both grate and circular fluidised-bed (CFB) type incinerators. Though smaller in terms of capacity, CFB incinerators generate similar amounts of electricity to stoke grates. They are also more flexible in terms of feedstock, permitting coal to be added for easier ignition. For these reasons, CFB incinerators enjoy considerable popularity in the market and now account for about half of China’s MSW treatment capacity.

Early central-level legislation on municipal waste management – passed almost a decade ago – sanctioned private-sector involvement. These measures, intended to encourage growth in waste-to-energy installations, relaxed state control in a way that has yet to take place in the energy sector. However, the primary catalyst for growth in the sector has been generous government incentives.

Waste-to-energy incineration is classified as a renewable energy form in China, meaning that plants receive a feed-in tariff for every kilowatt hour of electricity they generate. Only two months ago, Beijing announced a fixed subsidised price for power purchased from waste-to-energy plants, which is about double that from coal-powered plants.

The results of these subsidies are dramatic. Both foreign and local waste-to-energy players have rushed to stake their claims, in some cases submitting loss-making tender offers just to get a foothold. Many waste-management experts suspect that Chinese city officials are among the most eager investors; using public infrastructure and tax revenue to profit personally.

Peeling back a green facade

The ongoing justification for favourable waste-to-energy policies in China is simple: cities stem the problem of growing waste while getting much needed electricity in the process. That formula, however appealing, appears too good to be true.

China’s incinerators, though canonised as a “clean energy,” have a dirty underside. Thermal waste treatment plants are subject to emissions regulations considerably looser than those for power plants. Legally, they can emit nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide at, respectively, four and five times the levels of power plants in China.

Newer facilities are installed with air-pollution control systems, but these are costly to use and maintain. Thus, many plants operate without the required flue gas filtering equipment. Likewise, treatment of other highly toxic byproducts – such as wastewater removed before incineration and fly ash created during burning – tends to be either poor or non-existent. This follows partly from the lack of regulations on how waste-to-energy plants should treat wastewater.

The company which operates the facility near where Xie Yong’s family lived boasts on its website that it uses an advanced pollution control system which meets European emissions standards, but no details are given. This is a common claim among waste-to-energy developers. On the other hand, air and water pollution in waste-to-energy plants in China has been well-documented. According to some reports, some plants emit dioxins at levels 24 times higher than those from American waste-to-energy facilities.

Making matters worse, plant operators regularly add coal to the burning waste. In private interviews, Waste-to-energy plant operators admitted to using a feedstock mix comprising equal parts coal and rubbish, which far exceeds the 20% coal limit mandated by the central government. It is not unheard of for the share of coal to be as high as 70%. Under these conditions, plants are operating essentially as small coal-fired power stations – exactly the kind of facility that Beijing is trying to eliminate on public health grounds.

Finally, while incineration plants in Europe charge rubbish haulers “tipping fees” that may reach US$132 (840 yuan) per tonne of waste, these fees rarely exceed US$16 (100 yuan) per tonne in China, and usually hover around US$8 (50 yuan). When Xie’s son was born, the plant near his house was making US$10 (64 yuan) for each tonne of trash they accepted. Many experts say that environmentally sound performance, and the costs it requires, is not technologically feasible with such low tipping fees.

Light beyond the haze

Weak regulation and misaligned policies, combined with an absence of public emissions data, make for a truly toxic incineration sector. Xie Yong is not the only one who has noticed.

Beginning a few years ago, communities near existing plants, offended by odorous emissions and worried about possible health risks, began protesting against new projects. In one incident, which took place in Xie’s Jiangsu province, as many as 10,000 residents gathered and clashed with police over a waste incinerator in their village. According to Chinese media reports, by mid-2010 construction of at least six new plants had been postponed due to public opposition.

By some accounts, China’s leadership has heeded the warnings. In interviews, city officials have said that some Chinese mayors are blocking new projects, concerned they could trigger unrest, thereby marring their reputations and chances of promotion.

Alongside these grassroots efforts, NGOs like Beijing-based Green Beagle are working to substantiate public opposition to incineration with actual emissions performance data. Having campaigned for, and been denied, credible figures for almost five years, the organisation is exploring the possibility of establishing independent waste-to-energy emissions monitoring stations.

As for Xie Yong, it is too early to say whether he can navigate a way through China’s legal system and extract the data he is so desperate to get his hands on, in the belief it will demonstrate a more direct relationship between the plant’s operations and his son’s crippling illness. With every other option exhausted, Xie decided early this year to sue the provincial-level Ministry of Environmental Protection at the Jiangsu provincial court. The trial is expected to take place later this year.

“Taking the ministry to court is my last choice,” Xie has said. “It’s the only way I can get justice.” Though his case is still unresolved, growing numbers of onlookers await the outcome.

Xie’s legal fight – the first of its kind – highlights the pressing need for greater transparency and accountability in the incineration sector. At the same time, growing popular opposition suggests that persistent, and public, resistance may be China’s best bet for achieving meaningful regulatory reform in the waste-to-energy sector.

not good

1. Our study shows a peak-decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined.”

J Epidemiol. 2004 May;14(3):83-93.

Risk of adverse reproductive outcomes associated with proximity to municipal solid waste incinerators with high dioxin emission levels in Japan.
Tango T, Fujita T, Tanihata T, Minowa M, Doi Y, Kato N, Kunikane S, Uchiyama I, Tanaka M, Uehata T.
Department of Technology Assessment and Biostatistics, National Institute of Public Health, Wako, Saitama, Japan.
BACKGROUND: Great public concern about health effects of dioxins emitted from municipal solid waste incinerators has increased in Japan. This paper investigates the association of adverse reproductive outcomes with maternal residential proximity to municipal solid waste incinerators. METHODS: The association of adverse reproductive outcomes with mothers living within 10 km from 63 municipal solid waste incinerators with high dioxin emission levels (above 80 ng international toxic equivalents TEQ/m3) in Japan was examined. The numbers of observed cases were compared with the expected numbers calculated from national rates adjusted regionally. Observed/expected ratios were tested for decline in risk or peak-decline in risk with distance up to 10 km. RESULTS: In the study area within 10 km from the 63 municipal solid waste incinerators in 1997-1998, 225,215 live births, 3,387 fetal deaths, and 835 infant deaths were confirmed. None of the reproductive outcomes studied here showed statistically significant excess within 2 km from the incinerators. However, a statistically significant peak-decline in risk with distance from the incinerators up to 10 km was found for infant deaths (p=0.023) and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined (p=0.047), where a “peak” is detected around 1-2 km. CONCLUSION: Our study shows a peak-decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined. However, due to the lack of detailed exposure information to dioxins around the incinerators, the observed trend in risk should be interpreted cautiously and there is a need for further investigation to accumulate good evidence regarding the reproductive health effects of waste incinerator exposure.

Epidemiology:Volume 18(5) SupplSeptember 2007p S125
Infant Mortality in 27 Italian Municipalities With Solid Waste Incinerators (1981-2001)
Bianchi, F; Minichilli, F; Pierini, A; Linzalone, N; Rial, M
CNR National Research Council, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Epidemiology Unit, Pisa, Italy.
Recently, an epidemiological study was carried out to verify the hypothesis of an association between infant mortality and residence near incinerators (Tango, 2004). Limits to the study were represented by rarity of death events and heterogeneity of infant mortality. However, availability of mortality data and of an incinerator database has allowed performing an exploratory investigation.
Materials and Methods:
Infant mortality was investigated over 2 periods (1981-1991, 1992-2001) in 27 municipalities with active incinerators in the 1981-2001 time frame. For each municipality the observed/expected ratio (O/E) was obtained. To calculate expected mortality, municipalities were included inside a 50-km radius circle. A pooled estimation of the O/E ratio obtained by meta-analysis was performed for the 27 municipalities. A multiple metaregression model was used to analyze the study, activity and latency periods, the incinerator burning capacity, the number of resident newborns, the residence density, the deprivation index.
Mortality analysis was performed on resident population for the whole period on approximately 250,000 infants under 1 year of age. In the overall period 1673 cases of infant mortality were observed. The pooled estimation of the O/E ratio resulted 1.04 (CI 95%: 0.97-1.11) for total cases. The multiple metaregression model showed the incinerator burning capacity as a statistically significant factor (P=0.011). Municipalities having incinerators with a burning capacity >50,000 ton/year showed a higher mortality excess (O/E=1.11, CI 95% 1.03-1.20) compared to municipalities with incinerators of <50,000 ton/year (O/E=0.95; CI 95%: 0.86-1.04).
Findings call for further insight by analytic epidemiologic studies to confirm possible association between infant mortality and living near incinerators.
© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

Incinerators double childhood cancer

Incinerators double childhood cancer

no incineration

Between 1974 and 1987, twice as many children who lived within 5km of incinerators in the UK died from cancer, compared to those who lived further away, according to new research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.(1)

The study comes on top of others which have found significant increases in cancers, of both adults and children, around incinerators(2) (3). However, because incinerators are often sited in industrial or deprived areas, scientists have been unable to say for sure that it is the toxins from burning mixed waste that are causing these extra cancers. Other industrial pollution or lifestyle factors, such as a poor diet, could be to blame, they say.

But the latest study found that there was no increase in cancer around “non-combustion” sites such as football grounds and biscuit makers. This appears to rule out social factors such as diet. Cancers around hospital incinerators were at similar levels to those around municipal waste incinerators, indicating that incineration could be the common cause. This led the author of the report, Professor George Knox of Birmingham University, to conclude that while nearby sources of industrial pollution might also contribute, the incinerators were “probably carcinogenic”.

The study was based on detailed examination of childhood deaths from cancer around 72 municipal and 307 hospital waste incinerators. Most of the incinerators studied have now been closed and those that remain are subject to tighter controls. However, even the most modern incinerators emit substances known to cause cancer as well as heavy metals and ultra-fine dust particles which can have a range of other health effects. Despite this the Government continues to insist on building new incinerators.

(1) International Journal of Epidemiology, 2000; 29:391-397 (2) Elliot P, Shaddick G, Kleinschmidt I et al Cancer incidence near municipal solid waste incinerators in Great Britain, British Journal of Cancer 1996; 73:702-10 (3) Elliot p, Eaton N, Shaddick G, Carter R, Cancer incidence near municipal solid waste incinerators in Great Britain. Part 2:histopathological and case-note review of primary liver cancer cases, British Journal of Cancer 2000, 82(5), 1103-1106