LETTER: Risk assessment of incineration

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The public justifiably holds considerable concerns about the scale of the health risk from mass waste burn incinerators and in particular the emissions of carcinogens and fine particles.

To assess the health risk from a medium-sized waste incinerator readers may find this scientific paper of interest: ‘Waste incineration—how big is the health risk? A quantitative method to allow comparison with other health risks.’ (http://jpubhealth.oxfordjournals.org/content/28/3/261.full) published in the Journal of Public Health (Oxford Journals).

Its conclusion is that emissions from the chimney of a medium sized waste incinerator (i.e. what is proposed in Horsham) over 25 years in a population of 25,398 within 5.5 km of the stack would result in an additional 0.018 cancers, 0.46 deaths brought forward due to sulphur dioxide and 0.02 deaths due to fine particles.

Cabinet members at Horsham District Council would be well advised to read this. The Department of Health have in the past encouraged health authorities to undertake health impact assessments (HIAs) regarding incinerators proposed in any locality.

Another piece of work to commend to the Cabinet and local residents can be found in the book ‘Waste Incineration and Public Health’ and the chapter entitled ‘Understanding Health Effects of Incineration’ (www.nap.edu/read/5803/chapter/7). One recommendation is: ‘Assessments of health risks that are attributable to waste incineration should pay special attention to the risks that might be posed by particulate matter, lead, mercury, and the dioxin and furans, due to their toxicity and environmental prevalence.’

So in addition to the county council (as waste disposal authority), the district council has a very important role to play.

The health concerns that flow from BritaniaCrest’s proposal falls very much in the portfolio of Cllr Kate Rowottom the cabinet member for Community and Wellbeing. Mrs. Rowbottom has the power, using her cabinet office, to lobby the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and other public bodies to undertake a health impact assessment. Our district council has a duty to its residents to ensure that such a risk assessment is carried out. It should be done without delay. But has Cllr Rowbottom done this? No, she hasn’t.

Has Cllr Vickers, the town and district’s chief planner, used the planning policies as tools available to her to prohibit a mass burn incinerator being built next to a proposed primary school? No, she hasn’t done or said anything. Has Cllr Cornell, the cabinet member for waste and recycling lobbied to stop this incinerator and to ensure more waste is recycled?

No, he has said nothing about the proposal of an incinerator to burn the waste mainly originating outside the District.

What does Cllr Dawe propose to do to stop this further ‘dumping’ in North Horsham?

Could he tell us what Liberty thinks about the impact of such an incinerator on their housing proposals?

The silence on the mass burn incinerator proposal is deafening. They should read the scientific papers on this subject and avail themselves of the facts about emissions from the industrial processes of burning waste and the proven harmful effects.

Cllr Dawe should let us know what he and his cabinet are going to do to stop it.

Dr Geoffrey Richardson

Tennyson Close, Horsham

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