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Irish Times - 19-12-05
INCINERATION AND ENVIRONMENT

Madam, - I read Susan Philips's article "Burning beats burying when it comes to waste treatment" (Dec 1st ) with total disbelief. Ms Philips goes to great lengths to convince us that incineration is a much better option than burying waste. Inexplicably, however, she fails to address what Ireland intends to do with the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly toxic ash waste which these incinerators will generate.

Ms Philips seems to be blissfully unaware that this dioxin-laden ash is infinitely more noxious than the original waste and that it will also have to be buried in the ground. The fly ash portion of this waste is particularly hazardous.

Six years ago, during the Belgian dioxin crisis, I was stationed at Felixstowe border inspection post as an official veterinary inspector. A blanket ban had been placed on the importation of foodstuffs from Belgium because of feared dioxin contamination. This crisis cost the Belgian economy millions of pounds as well as a major loss in consumer confidence and was later found to have resulted from just one gramme of dioxin.

Irish milk and milk produce currently have the lowest dioxin levels in Europe. This competitive advantage will be lost if we go down the burning route as municipal solid waste incinerators are by far the greatest source of dioxin in the world.

Ms Philips, in her December 16th letter, asks her detractors to "show the mothers of Ireland what they are supposed to do with their plastic nappies, please". The World Health Organisation announced on February 14th, 1997 that dioxin was a "class one carcinogen".

Dioxin is highly toxic at levels of nanograms and picograms and crosses the placenta, gaining access to the unborn child. It is also passed on in the milk of lactating animals and in the breast milk of the human female. Perhaps Ms Philips would like to advise the mothers of Ireland what they are supposed to do when they have dioxin in their breasts and in their unborn babies. - Yours, etc,

PATRICK McGINNITY, MVB, MRCVS, Keady, Co Armagh.

     

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
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