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'Millions' at risk from toxic plant emissionso:p>


Oct 23 2003


Click here for original article

Exclusive Investigation By Karl Plunkett

MILLIONS are at risk from a health catastrophe if a giant 'waste to energy incinerator is combined with a smaller plant burning hazardous and radioactive waste.

So says an eminent international authority on industrial toxicology, Dr Dick van Steenis, who has contacted the Express to add his weight to the argument.

 Dr van Steenis believes that the new incinerator will affect five million people over a 17-mile radius from Colnbrook.

He said: "The UK Government is allowing 400 times the amount of cancer forming particles the Germans allow. On top of that, the particles from the clinical waste incinerator are radioactive.

He added: "No one monitors it, so they can put out 1,000 times the level allowed which will cause cancer rates to sky-rocket"

GPs who last week broke their silence in the Express claiming thousands may die have now revealed that young children are likely to figure heavily in the death toll.

The Environment Agency (EA) is the only thing standing between Colnbrook and an incinerator capable of burning 54 tonnes of rubbish an hour and a clinical waste operation of a type banned in Ireland.

Slough and Langley GP and member of the Slough Primary Care Trust's Good Practice Forum, Dr Jerry Thompson, likened the breathing in of poisonous fumes by those living in the area to constant passive smoking.

A British study of municipal incinerators, published in 2000, found that children living within 5km of an incinerator had twice the rate of leukaemia and cancers of other children.

Dr Thompson said: "Studies show that children have less efficient detoxification systems so they are less able to break down dangerous chemicals compared to adults.

"This leaves them more susceptible to leukaemia and other childhood cancers due to toxic exposure."

Another damming study comes from Sint Niklaas, a small town in Belgium where the Government commissioned an incinerator.

After 20 years there was a staggering five-fold increase in cancer and life expectancy in the town dropped by 12 years.

Cancer is not the only concern of the family GP who has uncovered evidence that living in the shadow of an incinerator could produce birth defects.

He said: "Every mother-to-be wishes for a normal baby, but there will be more worries than usual for these mothers in the Slough area after the incinerators start up."

A study of incinerators in Cumbria, published this year by Professor Parker of the University of Newcastle, has shown a 17 per cent increase in spina bifida and a rise of 12 per cent in heart defects.

Speaking to the Express from his Langley home just a few miles from the proposed incinerator site, Dr Thompson warned: "Future generations in Slough and the surrounding areas are heavily reliant on the decisions we make today on their behalf that is why this is such an important issue."

A Grundon spokesman replied to the claims by saying: "We are extremely surprised at the concern over the proposed energy-from-waste plant and clinical waste incinerator. It would appear there is nothing new in this supposed factual information.

"There is no proven scientific evidence which demonstrates a casual relationship between any adverse health impacts and modern, state-of-the art incinerators, which meet the emission limits of not only the first Waste Incineration Directive, but also EU Waste Incineration Directive of 2000.

 "The proposed energy-from-waste plant at Colnbrook was granted planning permission by Slough Borough Council in June, 2000 and IPC authorisation by the Environment Agency in 1999. The clinical waste incinerator has been operating on the site for 12 years.

 The spokesman added: "We are also disappointed that the doctors in the Express investigation have not even attempted to discuss their concerns with us."

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