Letter: Chimney pixie dust

The statement from Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside councils (Plan for Incinerator Sparks Anger, 10th August) over the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy would have us believe that technology has miraculously made waste burning safe, as if incinerators benignly puff out pixie dust and petals.

Perhaps when the infamous Byker incinerator was first proposed, it’s backers boasted with equal confidence about technology under the “strictest health controls”.

There is no such thing as safe waste incineration, and no such thing as a safe level of pollution. Chemicals known as dioxins produced by waste incineration have been linked to breast and testicular cancers. A US Environmental Protection Agency study estimated that as many as 7% of all cancers are caused by dioxins, and British research points to dioxins for the rapid rise of the agonising disease endometriosis among women. Research on childhood cancer ‘hotspots’ near municipal incinerators makes a sobering read.

Not just spewing out toxic clouds, once the waste is burned the remaining slag and fly ash, designated as ‘hazardous’ in the councils’ own waste strategy document, still has to be buried in landfill, presenting further risk to public health.

In terms of climate change, incinerators, no matter how green their supporters try to paint them with cynical euphemisms about ‘energy recovery’, belch out tons of CO2.

There are safer and more sustainable methods of recovering value from waste without burning it. I would urge everyone who cares about a clean future to tell the council – say no to incineration.


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