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Javelin Park Investigation – UK plant filters ‘let particulates through’

10:20am Wednesday 4th January 2012

By Chris Warne

STRICT regulations forbidding the emission of tiny particles from incinerators are needed to safeguard public health, warns Dr Dick van Steenis.

Ultrafine PM1 and PM2.5 particulates which are released when waste is incinerated are causing premature infant and child deaths, he believes.

Dr van Steenis also claims these particles, which are small enough to be inhaled by humans, are linked to a host of other adverse health effects, including birth defects, childhood cancers, respiratory illnesses and heart attacks.

In evidence submitted to a House of Commons select committee in May last year, Dr van Steenissaid the Environment Agency had admitted that 90 percent of PM1s and 35 per cent of PM2.5s escape through filters installed in UK incinerators.

This, the retired GP claimed, meant that UK incinerators were emitting somewhere between 40 to 120 times more particulates than those in Finland or Sweden, where air quality regulations are tighter.

In his submission to the Environmental Audit Committee, Dr van Steenis also criticised the Health Protection Agency for failing to examine data at ward level, which would allow the HPA to assess the health impact of incinerator fumes.

The HPA has so far refused to look at ONS figures despite it being recommended by the World Health Organisation, he said.

GLOSVAIN protesters and Lib Dem county councillors have been calling on Gloucestershire County Council to consider a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant as an alternative to the Javelin Park incinerator.

However, Dr van Steenis is equally opposed to that option on the grounds that a large amount of leftover waste from MBT plants still has to be incinerated or put into landfill.

“What we should be looking at are plasma arc gasification plants because they break everything down into atoms,” he said.

Dr van Steenis believes plasma arc gasification plants are the safest and most environmentally friendly option and are capable of generating more energy from waste than incinerators.

© Copyright 2001-2012 Newsquest Media Group

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