CC: jsimcock; justin.mccracken; jon.philpin; maxwell.winchester; yvonne.rowson; vsteenis; darren.johnson; carolinelucas; catherine.woodward; diana.grice; annette.stuart
Subject: An open letter to Daniel Kawczynski MP regarding the incinerator health-damage scandal and how it's likely to continue in Shrewsbury unless he steps in
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 16:24:28 +0000
Dear Mr Kawczynski,
I hope you read the letter dated 8 June 2009 to me from Justin McCracken, Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency, who e-mailed the letter to you as well as to the Deputy Editor of the Shropshire Star, Jon Philpin of the Environment Agency's Shrewsbury office and others on 12 July 2009.
The letter acknowledged that the Health Protection Agency (HPA) hadn't bothered to examine any relevant health or mortality data in electoral wards around incinerators and Mr McCracken seemed oblivious to the fact that Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England and equivalent organisations in other parts of the UK accept the HPA's "expert" advice that incinerators don't cause any harm to health when the PCTs and other statutory consultees for health make written replies to the Environment Agency to give opinion on whether or not a proposed incinerator was likely to have significant impact on health.
The Environment Agency don't bother to check any health data themselves and do not carry out any health research and yet they recommended the examination of health and mortality data around existing incinerators in the "incinerator case study" of their joint Environment Agency/CLARINET 2001 report about "epidemiology".
The PCTs have contracts with the HPA for "expert" advice on health effects of airborne pollution and other specialist matters and if you telephone any PCT where an incinerator has been sited, they will tell you that the HPA say there's no harm to health and that they have accepted that advice as fact.
I can supply you with copies of letters from PCTs in Cornwall, Nottinghamshire and East Sussex confirming the above and also a very revealing letter from Annette Stuart of the Public Health & Wellbeing Directorate of the Scottish Government which shows that the Scottish Government have also accepted the HPA's advice at face value.
You have been reported in the local press as being concerned about the proposed incinerator at Harlescott, Shrewsbury. My advice to you is to move house because unless you expose the scandal of the incinerator health cover-up, your currently health electoral ward of Shawbury will become a "killing field" just like those downwind of incinerators around the country.
Before an incinerator starts operating, it will need two separate "permissions", namely planning permission from Shropshire Council and an operating permit (IPPC) from the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency will ask Shropshire County PCT for a written letter stating whether or not the proposed incinerator will cause significant harm to human health.
The Director of Public Health at Shropshire County PCT (or whoever deals with this issue) will do the same as all other PCTs and write back to say that there will be no significant harm to human health and the IPPC permit will be issued by the Environment Agency.
If there were an honest, diligent and bright person at Shropshire County PCT making the response, they might think:
"There's an incinerator in Wolverhampton, so I'll get the latest ten-year (1998-2007) set of infant mortality rates from Wolverhampton PCT and see if Fallings Park ward (which is downwind of the incinerator) has a higher infant death rate than Tettenhall Wightwick ward which is upwind."
If you look at the 1998-2007 infant mortality rates on an electoral ward map of Wolverhampton, you'll see that the rate in Fallings Park (13.5 per 1,000 live births) is ten times higher than in Tettenhall Wightwick (1.3 per 1,000 live births).
Suppose the "honest, diligent and bright" person then obtained the infant mortality rates in electoral wards around incinerators at Wolverhampton, Tysleley, Stoke-on-Trent, Edmonton, Sheffield, Kirklees, Bolton etc. and realised that they all had similar patterns of high & low infant death rates, they'd realise that the incinerators couldn't be excluded from having a causal effect.
If that same person then drafted a letter to the Environment Agency stating words similar to: "examination of infant mortality rates in electoral wards around existing incinerators suggest that there will be a significant adverse impact on human health and so therefore I recommend that IPPC consent for the Harlescott incinerator be refused on the grounds of protecting public health", you might think it would be the end of the Harlescott incinerator.
If such a letter were sent, the Environment Agency would call a meeting with Shropshire County PCT to "clarify" the issue and remind them that Shropshire County PCT, Telford & Wrekin PCT, the Environment Agency, the Health Protection Agency and Environmental Health officers from Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council, Bridgnorth Council, Telford & Wrekin Borough Council are all already involved in a cover-up with respect to airborne emissions from Ironbridge power station.
The outcome of such a meeting would be to explain that if the Harlescott incinerator is not given an IPPC permit to operate there's likely to be at least one Shropshire Councillor and a few Shropshire Star readers who will be bright enough to think: "If the Harlescott incinerator has been turned down of health grounds, surely Ironbridge power station, with its 670 foot high stack, could be the reason for so much ill-health in Telford, East Shropshire and Staffordshire?"
You are the Member of Parliament for the Shrewsbury area and are in a position to expose the cover-up scandal by publicising the failure of the Health Protection to examine the rates of illness and of premature deaths at electoral ward level around incinerators.
Note that when various London papers reported my research into high infant death rates around incinerators, the PCTs were "unavailable for comment" just as the Health Protection Agency were "unavailable for comment" when the Surrey Mirror was preparing the article about the HPA's failure to examine relevant data around incinerators which was published on 22 May 2008.
If you think "Oh, that's where the poor people live." with respect to Fallings Park ward, then think about Eastcote & East Ruislip ward (London Borough of Hillingdon) which has the highest infant mortality rate out of 625 electoral wards in London (13.9 per 1,000 live births) for the six-year period 2002-2007. Eastcote & East Ruislip isn't a "deprived" ward by any means as it's among the five percent of "least deprived" London wards. What residents of Eastcote & East Ruislip are deprived of is clean air.
Norman Baker MP asked a very carefully worded Parliamentary Question to which he received an evasive written reply on 17 September 2007 instead of:
Honest Answer No.1: “No assessment has been made of any correlation between the presence of a functioning incinerator and the incidence of infant mortality in that area despite the fact that a Japanese study of infant mortality rates around 63 incinerators published in 2004 reported “a peak decline in risk with distance from the municipal waste incinerators for infant mortality and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined” (J Epidemiol. 2004 May; 14(3): 83-93).
Honest Answer No. 2: “Examination of Office for National Statistics data at electoral ward level shows that electoral wards exposed to PM2.5 emissions from incinerators and other industrial sources such as oil refineries, power stations, foundries etc. have very high infant mortality rates while wards which are free from such emissions have very low rates of infant mortality with some electoral wards having had zero infant deaths recorded for each of the fifteen years 1993-2007.
I'd be grateful if you'd ask the following Parliamentary Question:
Could the Office for National Statistics provide the infant mortality rates for the following electoral wards which are all close to existing incinerators?
Great Lever (Bolton)
Northwick Park (Brent)
Upper Edmonton (Enfield)
Chingford Green (Waltham Forest)
Rotherham West (Rotherham)
Fallings Park (Wolverhampton)
Bowbrook (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Here are the answers you'll get if the ONS use the same groups of years:
Great Lever (Bolton): 13.1 per 1,000 live births (2004-2007) Raikes Lane incinerator
Northwick Park (Brent): 12.0 per 1,000 live births (2002-2007) St Mark’s Hospital incinerator
Upper Edmonton (Enfield): 11.3 per 1,000 live births (2002-2007) Edmonton incinerator
Chingford Green (Waltham Forest: 11.9 per 1,000 live births (2002-2007) Edmonton incinerator
Olton (Solihull): 13.2 per 1,000 live births (2004-2006) Tyesley incinerator
Darnall (Sheffield): 10.3 per 1,000 live births (2004-2007) Bernard Road incinerator
Rotherham West (Rotherham) 15.5 per 1,000 live births (2004-2007) Bernard Rd incinerator
Fallings Park (Wolverhampton): 15.3 per 1,000 live births (2003-2007) Crown Street incinerator
Bowbrook (Shrewsbury & Atcham): 15.2 per 1,000 live births (2002-2007) Shrewsbury Hospital incinerator.
If you think that the Environment Agency employees are trustworthy on this issue, think again and read the words of Alan Dalton, the Regional Board Member of the Environment Agency who was sacked by Michael Meacher on 19 December 2001 because he dared to expose the failure of the Environment Agency to regulate incinerators properly.
"We trust them to protect us and our children. I can't trust the agency and I am a board member. (The Guardian, 22 November 2001)
Alan Dalton died in December 2003. I last saw him at the Welsh Assembly in January 2003 when the Welsh Assembly was considering the Nantygwyddon landfill site scandal before quietly shelving it. If Alan Dalton were still alive, this issue would have been sorted long ago.
Lord Smith of Finsbury is the current Chairman of the Environment Agency and these words were attributed to him in the South London Press article of 4 May 2007 (also pasted in with front page of Harrow Observer, 3 May 2007) about my research:
“no permit would be issued to an incinerator operator if a health risk was likely”
The Guardian: Parliament misled over recycled dioxins: Concern over poison's spread as environment agency condemned as 'devious' by member of its own board
Guardian, The (London, England) - Thursday, November 22, 2001
Author: DAVID HENCKE WESTMINSTER CORRESPONDENT
A government minister has twice misled parliament over a serious health hazard after being given misleading and inaccurate information by Whitehall's environment watchdog, a television investigation revealed last night.
Michael Meacher, the environment minister, admitted that figures for levels of dioxins - one of the most deadly poisons to humans - in recycled material that has been used to build homes and roads, have been heavily underestimated by theenvironment agency .
The programme also found that workers in Dagenham, east London, where the material - recycled incinerator ash - is stored, are having hospital tests after inhaling the ash.
The disclosures follow a BBC Newsnight investigation into the use of recycled ash from the country's largest incinerator in Edmonton, north London, which has been sold to one of the country's biggest contractors, Tarmac, for use in breezeblocks in housebuilding and for road and car park construction across the country.
The tests carried out by the environment agency showed a minimal presence of dioxins, but when the material was tested independently it was found to contain up to 20 times the amount. After the environment agency was told, it retested the ash and came up with higher figures.
Mr Meacher, however, had released the minimal figures to MPs, and yesterday admitted that he had to clarify his answers. His figures said that dioxins were present at concentrations of between 20 and 50 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per kilogram - the same as in urban soil. In reality, it was found to be up to 1,200 nanograms per kilogram.
"If it needs to be clarified, I will . . . I can only rely on the fig ures which are given to me," he said on the programme.
This is second time Mr Meacher has had to clarify the issue. Earlier this year he had told MPs that the environment agency had no figures on the toxicity of ash at Edmonton - when the agency had carried out tests showing the ash contained high levels of dioxins.
The agency also comes under fire for saying that it had no knowledge that recycled ash had been sold to Tarmac and other companies, when documents obtained by Newsnight show that the agency had authorised its use. An internal inquiry has been launched by the agency to find out where the ash has gone.
Last night, Alan Dalton , a member of the environment agency board, launched an attack on the officials handling the case. "A lot of what we do in the agency in terms of protecting people around incinerators, landfill and chemical plants, is based on trust," he said. "We trust them to protect us and our children. I can't trust the agency and I am a board member.
"They were not honest in their replies to me, I found them devious. I found them more devious than the companies they were actually dealing with."
The environment agency says "the ash pile does not pose a risk to human health" because the main danger is from dioxins getting into the food chain.
Workers at Collease - the company handling the waste at Dagenham - do not agree.
John Welsh, the former site manager, says: "I've got an actual lump in my throat, inside my gullet, which they [the hospital] have done certain tests on. Two other colleagues down here are suffering from throat problems at the moment. ."
Tarmac has launched an internal inquiry. It pointed out that government agencies assured them the ash was safe.
Ash containing dioxins from Britain's largest incinerator, which was targeted by Greenpeace protesters last year, is thought to have been used to make breeze blocks
FAMILIES living downwind of incinerators are more at risk from infant death, heart disease, cancer and autism, health researchers claim. Michael Ryan and Dr Dick van Steenis believe babies are more likely to die if they are exposed to fumes from incinerators like the South East London Combined Heat and Power Plant (SELCHPP) in Deptford. The researchers point to Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures showing infant mortality rates ward by ward. Areas downwind of the incinerator in Landmann Way have an infant mortality rate more than four times that of wards upwind of the plant. ONS figures show that, in wards north-east of SELCHP, infant deaths are 7.1 per 1,000 compared with 0.9 per 1,000 south of the plant.
They maintain research carried out in the US backs up their findings but that the Government won’t listen to them. Because of the prevailing westerly wind, they claim, areas to the north-east of an incinerator are most affected by dangerous emissions that contain PM2.5 particles – a cocktail of heavy metals small they can be breathed in. Dr Van Steenis, a retired GP and once adviser to a House of Commons air pollution select committee, said: “There is nothing to screen out PM2.5 particles in the UK and there is no regulation.”
Dr Frederica Perera, professor at New York’s Columbia University and director of Columbia Centre for Children’s Environmental Health, said:“Many studies, including our own, have found that in utero or childhood exposures to PM2.5 particles, or pollutants in the particles, are associated with adverse respiratory health and neuro development in children, and may increase the risk of cancers later on in life. But Chris Smith, of the Government’s Environmental Protection Directorate, said no permit would be issued to an incinerator operator if a health risk was likely. Emissions were tightly controlled under EU limits and incinerators regulated. A spokesman for Environmental Services Association, which represents the waste management industry, said incinerators had to operate to ”extremely high” standards.