Monday, 18 May 2009


There’s a massive re-branding of incinerators going on. The government and the international incinerator builders know they must change the public’s mind about their terrible image .The history of numerous serious accidents, deliberate flouting of regulations to ghastly effect and just incompetence and human error have left a bad taste in the mouth.
So, Modern Thermal Treatment, Energy from Waste and Biogas have sprung into being as the flag wavers of experimental methods of mass waste disposal. The London Waste Board is supposed to plan our future, but it is “packed” with people who have vested interests in incineration. The South London Waste Plan started a consultation, which it then stopped half way. Its promised to collect and share the replies of people who had taken the trouble to attend, but this has been hidden away in appendices. Some of its groups were prevented from discussing their worries on the night. There is a suggestion that they only need to have shown willing, a spurious consultation, to get their licence to “buy” an incinerator.
The problem is that there is very big money involved here. The other problem is that some of the worst potential effects are delayed, by which time the birds will have flown. The serious air pollution you will be able to measure straight away (if you are allowed), but the peak of cancers come twenty years later. The way to understand the problem of dioxins is to know they are like the body’s own hormones. These chemical messengers of the blood and brain are very, very, tiny, weigh next to nothing …but are just the right shape to be “recognised” and their message understood. If you think of some of the most important ones, the steroids, they are shaped a bit like the Olympic rings logo, you would be surprised and shocked to see that dioxins and furans have a very similar shape. The body mistakes them for “messengers”…and switches on by mistake (millions of cancer doses in a gram).
Japan is the country that has most incinerators, and has burned for longest in the world. It was also fire-bombed extensively in the war. The meat and milk it ate came from its own fields, and its animals had concentrated the chemicals, which are naturally indestructible. Its cancer rates have doubled since the war, and it now has the highest rate of male colorectal caner in the world (WHO 2005). DEFRA, the government body responsible for selling the safety of incinerators has a track record of its own….It sacked the scientist who discovered that BSE might move to humans and thus delayed effective action…it mismanaged the first foot and mouth outbreak and started the second one all by itself! It tried to rush the Royal Society (independent scientists) into agreeing that incinerators were safe, but they refused.
There is one potentially safe method of incineration that uses very high temperatures and turns everything into glass…but it is expensive, and much less profitable (PLASMA-GAS). I bet we will be offered “cheap and dirty”, so the profits can roll. Shame about the hundreds of thousands who will live under the plume and not have been given any voice.

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