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December 28th, 2013:

Eunomia: English Local Authority Recycling Limited to 60%

from Eunomia:

The Fifth Issue of Eunomia’s Residual Waste Infrastructure Review, published today, shows that residual waste treatment facilities already in the pipeline could limit the rate of recycling in 2020 for local authority collected (LAC) wastes in England to no more than 60%.

This limit will be in place for as long as the infrastructure remains operational and well beyond 2020 unless contracts can be renegotiated. If the country is successful in its efforts to reduce waste arisings or if more treatment capacity is commissioned, this will further limit recycling rates. Meanwhile, Scottish and Welsh authorities have invested in less infrastructure and will be able to achieve much higher recycling rates.

This is on the conservative assumption that only the 2 million tonnes per annum (tpa) of residual waste treatment capacity commissioned by local authorities that has reached at least ‘preferred bidder’ status reaches financial close. The finding is in stark contrast to the potential recycling rates for LAC in the devolved administrations, which the report shows could reach 82% in Scotland and 79% in Wales.

Adam Baddeley, the report’s lead author said:

“It’s worrying that we are already in danger of limiting how far we can go with recycling in England. If we genuinely aspire to develop a circular economy, then we must shift the focus of investment away from residual waste towards options further up the hierarchy.”

The report is based on local authorities’ annual WasteDataFlow returns to Defra, and Eunomia’s Facilities Database, which holds information on all residual treatment facilities in the UK (both operating and under development) to model the balance between the two. Data is analysed on both a national and regional basis, to provide a detailed picture of where insufficient or excess capacity is anticipated.

28 Nov 2013

China Daily: Five injured in plant explosion (Jan 2010)

by Qin Quanlin, reporting for China Daily:

GUANGZHOU – Five people were seriously injured when a water-cooling pipeline cracked at the city’s major garbage treatment plant yesterday, local authorities said.

Those who have been protesting the building of more garbage incinerator plants said the accident gives them even stronger convictions that the facilities are not safe. Meanwhile, plant officials still maintain the incinerators are safe and eco-friendly.

A large amount of boiled water and steam leaked from the pipeline after the accident, causing the injuries, according to a statement from the Guangzhou urban planning and administrative committee.

The five were immediately sent to a nearby hospital for treatment, said Li Tinggui, the committee’s director, adding all were in stable condition.

Initial investigations indicated that the accident was caused by a sudden burst of the No 1 water-cooling pipeline at the controversial Likeng garbage incinerator, which was put into operation in 2005.

“I saw a huge stream of mushroom-shaped smoke and heard a terrific noise following the burst,” said a villager who lives near the plant.

Other facilities at the incinerator, located in Baiyun district of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, ran smoothly after the accident, according to the government release.

“We will repair or replace the pipeline as soon as possible to ensure its normal operation,” Li said.

Following the accident, local authorities stopped the operation of the plant.

Francois Guyon, general manager of Veolia Environmental Services, the France-based operator of the Likeng project, said the accident had nothing to do with technology and facilities.

“This garbage incinerator has been operating very well since 2005. It was designed as an environmental-friendly project,” he said.

The general manager was not in Guangzhou yesterday, but he told China Daily in a telephone interview that the accident also had no relation to the freezing weather as the city witnessed a sharp drop in temperature.

Following the accident, netizens said the local government should more strictly supervise the garbage treatment project to ensure that it runs smoothly.

“We don’t trust the so-called state-of-the-art facilities for garbage incinerators,” said a netizen at the city’s popular online forum of

“No one can ensure the incinerator’s safety in operation, let alone the great damage it poses to people’s health and the environment,” the netizen said.

At the end of last year, local authorities suspended construction of another planned large garbage incinerator in Panyu district due to a wide range of protests from local residents over fears of health and environmental damages.

In addition to Guangzhou, major Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, are also planning to build incineration plants to tackle the huge amounts of garbage.

8 Jan 2010

China Digital Times: The Dirty Truth About China’s Incinerators

by Josh Rudolph, posted on the China Digital Times:

A heated debate burns around the topic of waste incineration, the flames of which are stoked when the practice turns mountains of trash into usable energy through a toxic transformation. An article from China Dialogue outlines the practice and politics of garbage-incineration and the use of waste-to-energy technology in China, and how it will continue through the 12th five-year-plan:

Most of China’s garbage meets with one of three fates: around half is placed in landfill, 12% is burned and a little under 10% used for fertiliser. The rest is mostly left untreated, much of it simply dumped. However, plants that burn waste – and in the process generate electricity –are on their way to playing a significant role in the disposal of Chinese refuse.

[…]China is set to increase its daily waste-processing capacity by 400,000 tonnes over that five-year period, said Shi. New investment of 140 billion yuan (US$22 billion) will be pumped into the sector, bringing total spending on waste-disposal to 260 billion yuan (US$41 billion).

[…]Evidently, China is gearing up for a Great Leap Forward in garbage incineration.

The path China has chosen will not be smooth. Local governments find themselves squeezed between mountains of rubbish piled around their cities on one side, and residents’ objections to on the other.


Miami New Times: Toxic Ash Closes Douglas Park

by David Milano of Miami New Times:

Miami-Dade’s newest toxic playground is the City of Miami’s Douglas Park. City officials say arsenic, lead, barium, and other hazardous substances have been found at levels far above the threshold considered safe for human exposure.

The park will be fenced off and closed to all visitors, says assistant city manager Alice Bravo. No clean-up plan has been announced.

Douglas Park is a former quarry that was acquired by the city in the 1930s to be used as a dump site for incinerator ash and other hazardous materials. It is less than a mile from Coconut Grove’s former Old Smokey municipal trash incinerator. The park was tested for toxic soil in August as part of a wider study to gauge the residual fallout from decades of pollution. The incinerator closed in 1970, but soil in the immediate vicinity is highly contaminated, county files reveal.

Even after the incinerator has been closed for 40 years, the landfilled toxic ash continues to contaminate the soil at what is now Douglas Park in Miami. (CBS4)

Initially, city and county officials overseeing the cleanup and monitoring efforts said the soil readings at Douglas Park remained in the normal range for arsenic and other contaminants — consistent with other areas in a dense, urban setting. But a follow-up inspection, explains Bravo, revealed melted glass and other debris visually similar to the toxic soil found at other ash dump sites. Subsequent soil analysis confirmed the suspicions of county environmental regulators, prompting the park’s closure.

Early Friday morning, city workers began turning away visitors from the multiuse facility at Douglas Road and SW 28th Street. A parks department employee, who declined to provide her name, said she and other workers had not been told the cause of the closure but added that work crews were arriving soon to fence off the ten-acre park.

Bravo said the soil test results coincided with the discovery of historical records that indentified the park as a former ash dump site. The city and Miami-Dade’s Department of Environmental Resources Management will work in tandem on the cleanup.

Coconut Grove’s Blanche Park and Merrie Christmas Park were closed in September after officials discovered buried incinerator ash. The City of Miami’s Melreese Golf Course and adjacent Grapeland Park are also former dump sites for ash, though they remain open. Earlier this year, a private, multimillion-dollar, waterfront estate in Coconut Grove was found to contain more than 100,000 tons of soil tainted with incinerator ash. Bravo says city officials are searching records for other former dump sites.

Incinerator ash — a grainy mix of carcinogens such as arsenic, barium, lead, antimony, and PCBs — is often detected by the telltale presence of melted glass and metal. The chemicals can easily leach into groundwater, contaminating the drinking supply.

22 Nov 2013