Subject: Waste Strategy for England 2007
Submission for above from:
Michael Ryan BSc, C Eng, MICE
1. Executive Summary
The waste strategy in England, and in the rest of the UK, fails to examine any health or mortality data in electoral wards around any incinerator or landfill site, in order to prove or disprove any association between exposure to PM2.5 emissions from such sites and elevated rates of illness and premature deaths at all ages.
The Health Protection Agency, upon whom DEFRA and many Primary Care Trusts rely for expert advice on such matters, have not examined any of the data descibed above, otherwise they'd have observed that infant mortality rates are very high in the electoral wards around incinerators, and other industrial sources of PM2.5 emissions, and infant mortality rates are very low, or even zero for many successive years, in electoral wards that are free from such emissions.
The safest system of waste disposal is also the cheapest, and yet the UK fails to promote the safest system, which is plasma gasification, and which is at least one hundred pounds per tonne cheaper than incineration if the health damage costs of incineration are factored into the calculation.
Incineration costs approximately sixty-eight pounds per tonne and the health damage costs are about the same again.
Plasma gasification has a nett cost of about twenty-three pounds per tonne and has negligible health effects and also zero toxic residue to be landfilled, unlike incineration where about thirty per cent of the volume burnt is left as highly toxic ash.
Other countries such as US, Canada, Japan, France, and Norway are using plasma gasification, and yet here in the UK, Councils are signing 27-year PFI deals for incinerators, often in locations where there is a deep water port for easy importation of waste from abroad.
The UK should immediately cease importing waste, and also switch to the safest system of waste disposal.
Here in Shropshire, Veolia have just been awarded a 27-year contract to build and operate an incinerator at Harlescott, Shrewsbury, when tey have also been awarded a contract to operate a plasma gasification plant for Dow Corning in Midland, Michigan, as can be seen from this news release of 1st October 2007:
Veolia also wish to build incinerators at Newhaven, Sussex and at Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, where such installations will cause the infant mortality rate and other health parameters to soar in electoral wards that receive PM2.5 emissions from their incinerators.
2. Incinerators and infant mortality rates in London's electoral wards
If the City of London is counted as a single electoral ward, there are 625 electoral wards in the Greater London Authority's area.
When the Office for National Statistics [ONS] VS4 birth/mortality data is examined for the four years 2003-6, there are forty-three electoral wards where there were zero infant deaths recorded by ONS in each of the four years.
The "zero" infant death wards in London were all free from incinerator emissions from the incinerators within the GLA's area at SELCHP [New Cross], Edmonton, St Mark's Hospital at Northwick Park, Hillingdon Hospital, Kings College Hospital at Denmark Hill, the four sewage sludge incinerators at Crossness, Beckton, Beddington Lane [Sutton] and at Edmonton, and also from the Colnbrook incinerator just outside the GLA's boundary.
During the same four year period 2003-6, there were forty-two electoral wards which had infant mortality rates which were greater than, or equalt to 10.0 deaths per 1,000 live births. These wards with exceptionally high rates, are all associated with incinerators, a fact that needs to be demonstrated on a map such as the ward map that Ken Livingstone kindly sent me following my FoI request, and which I'm sure he'll be glad to supply to the EFRA Committee.
There have been several newspaper reports about my infant mortality research starting with the Enfield Advertiser of 25 April 2007 and the Sunday Express of 29 April 2007.
Those who think that infant mortality is caused by "deprivation" will be surprised to learn that some of London's least deprived wards have very high rates of infant deaths, including Chingford Green ward, which "just happens to be" downwind of Edmonton incinerator:
Not many soccer fans will know that David Beckham's father lives in Hampton Road, Chingford, which is within a mile of Edmonton incinerator, although most will have heard that Ted Beckham nearly died of a heart attack a few weeks ago. When I checked the Waltham Forest Guardian website for "heart attack" recently, there were 363 items, mostly fatalities. It was no coincidence that there are so many heart attacks in Waltham Forest and the only person who seems to have identified the Edmonton incinerator as a major cause is Kathy Gosling, a former Councillor of Waltham Forest Borough Council.
When a literature search was done today [26 October 2007] for "air pollution, infant mortality" in the archive of the US National Library of Medicine
there were seventy-five peer-reviewed journal articles listed, the latest being "Fine particles, a major threat to children" by J Henrich and R Slama.
Fine particles are usually termed PM2.5s and page 16 of the DEFRA Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland report of July 2007 lists some of the adverse health effects of PM2.5s, and starts: "Both short-term and long-term exposure to ambient levels of PM [particulate matter] are consistently associated with respiratory and cardiovascular illness and mortality as well as other health effects."
In the London Borough of Brent, Fryent ward is one of the "less deprived" wards and yet due to its proximity to incinerators, has the highest infant mortality rate in that Borough at 12.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. Fryent ward was named by Brent PCT as having the highest hospital admission rate for cardiovascular disease in their latest report that I've read.
There were nine London wards with higher infant mortality rates than Fryent in 2003-6 as follows:
Harrow Weald [Harrow]: 16.1 per 1,000 live births [eight infant deaths]
Chingford Green [Waltham Forest]: 15.6 per 1,000 [six infant deaths] **
Noel Park [Haringey]: 15.1 per 1,000 [twelve infant deaths, and 1,071 live births] **
Tottenham Green [Haringey]: 14.0 per 1,000 [fifteen infant deaths] **
Newington [Southwark]: 14.0 per 1,000 [twelve infant deaths]
White Hart Lane [Haringey]: 13.7 per 1,000 [twelve infant deaths] **
West Ham [Newham]: 13.3 per 1,000 [thirteen infant deaths]
Northumberland Park [Haringey]: 13.3 per 1,000 [fifteen infant deaths] **
Queensbury [Harrow]: 12.0 per 1,000 [eight infant deaths]
** These wards are affected by emissions from Edmonton incinerator.
I've included the number of live births in Noel Park ward above, because there were a similar number of live births
recorded in Valentines ward [Redbridge] in 2003-6, where there were 1,020 live births and zero infant deaths. Note that unlike the wards with high infant mortality rates, Valentines ward is outside the range of PM2.5 emissions from the London incinerators at Edmonton, SELCHP etc.
Most people would be able to tell the difference between zero infant deaths and twelve infant deaths, especially the parents and families, and also the friends and colleagues of the bereaved parents.
Members of Parliament cannot be expected to look after the interests of their constituents, or the nation as a whole, unless they are
adequately informed of the facts.
When I made a formal submission to the EFRA Committee examining the Environment Agency nearly two years ago [published 11 May 2006, pages
Ev202-206], I did not have the infant mortality data for every electoral ward in England & Wales. I now hold that data and have analysed it and proved that there is a clear and consistent association between industrial sources of PM2.5 emissions and elevated rates of infant
3. Ironbridge Power Station & elevated rates of infant mortality
Here in Shropshire, we have a major source of PM2.5s from Ironbridge Power Station. During the nine-year period 1998-2006, the group of
eight orange-coloured electoral wards on the downwind side of Ironbridge Power Station had a total of fifty-six infant deaths recorded
by ONS, and can be seen on the map at:
The same map has a group of six green-coloured electoral wards on the upwind side of the power station where there were just four
infant deaths recorded during the same nine-year period.
The orange-coloured wards had four times as many live births as the green-coloured wards, so if the infant mortality rates in both zones had been the same, there would have been sixteen infant deaths in the orange-coloured wards, and not fifty-six.
Dr Catherine Woodward, of Telford & Wrekin PCT, has published a report [May 2006] which claims to prove that emissions from Ironbridge Power Station have no detrimental effect on rates of sickness and premature deaths on electoral wards downwind of that power station.
Dr Woodward "forgot" to examine any electoral wards upwind of the power station, preferring to compare just four wards [Ironbridge Gorge, Dawley Magna, Woodside, and Madeley], all of which are included in the orange-coloured wards where there were a total of fifty-six infant deaths during
Dr Dick van Steenis MBBS is a medically-qualified doctor who has considerable expertise in the health effects of industrial PM2.5 pollution
and he tried to get Dr Woodward to agree to a meeting at which he could explain how the power station was causing such high rates of
illness and premature deaths at all ages. Dr Woodward refused to meet in her letter of 31 May 2005, and her Chief Executive has asked
David Wright MP to have my statement of evidence [Ev202-206] removed from the Parliamentary website:
The forty "excess" infant deaths in the orange-coloured electoral wards during 1998-2006 were not an awful coincidence, but the
predictable result of being downwind of a major industrial source of PM2.5 pollution.
4. Composting of waste
Composting of waste seems a harmless form of disposing of waste, and yet David Davies MP is aware of major problems in parts of
Yorkshire due to moulds etc from large composting sites.
5. False statements by at least one DEFRA adviser and by at least one incinerator operator
Jonathan Davies was one of the authors of the 2004 DEFRA waste report, and yet he has made false statements about the health effects of incineration in his Shropshire Star letter, which was in response to one by former Slough Councillor, Margaret Stoklosinksi, dated 23 March 2006:
Mr Davies has not bothered to check any health or mortality data around incinerators, and yet DEFRA have accepted his "expert" opinion.
Martin Curtois, group communications manager for Veolia Environmental Services, is quoted in the Shrewsbury Chronicle article by
Peter Kitchen, dated 25 October 2007 "Town 'missing out on safer waste site'", as follows, after the Shrewsbury Chronicle challenged Veolia over their double standards of operating a safer plasma gasification plant in Michigan, whilst promoting an unsafe incinerator here in Shrewsbury:
"Our [ie Veolia's] understanding is that plasma melt technology is designed for industrial and hazardous waste and is not suitable and is unproven for municipal solid waste."
Sita Sweden have been operating a plasma gasification plant in Trondheim for some years:
The City of Ottawa are also investing in plasma gasification to safely dispose of municipal waste:
I request that Dr Dick van Steenis be allowed to explain the facts about industrial air pollution to the EFRA committee, members of which
are likely to have searching questions for him.
I also request that David Wright MP be invited to attend such a committee so that he understands fully that he is mistaken about Ironbridge Power Station and that the deaths due to the toxic PM2.5 emissions from that plant will continue.