Last year Greenpeace members occupied London's Edmonton incinerator which is owned by SITA and several North London boroughs.
Now Greenpeace says it is writing to all incinerator operators and the Environment Agency, which is responsible for regulating incineration, to ask how widespread the practice of ash disposal into construction related projects under the concept of recycling is, and “exactly where in the UK contaminated ash has been spread”.
In Byker, Newcastle ash was spread on footpaths and the Environment Agency has issued proceedings against the local incinerator operator, see: Byker court case
Greenpeace Toxics campaigner Mark Strutt said this week: “It is dangerous and irresponsible to dispose of hazardous ash like this leaving a toxic heritage for future generations. There are no safe levels for many of these chemicals whether they are released as chimney gases or end up ash. Byker and the other 12 incinerators should be shut for good and the Government should cancel its plans to build any more.”
Greenpeace claims that the 13 incinerators in the UK create more than a million tonnes of ash a year. Ash from the pollution filter systems of household rubbish incinerators known as 'f;ly ash' is classified as hazardous waste and must be disposed of in special landfill sites. This fly ash is contaminated with extremely high concentrations of heavy metals and toxic compounds like dioxins, linked to cancer and other health problems. In May of last year, following Newcastle's Byker ash scandal, public health officials banned children from nearby allotments and warned people not to eat eggs and chickens produced there.
A spokesman for the Energy from Waste Assocation said:
“We are obviously aware of the issues regarding Byker with regards to the use of ash. This is why for some months now we have been working with the EA to develop a code of practice for use of incinerator bottom ash and for sampling and monitoring of that ash. We are there to ensure that the highest standards both in operations and subsequent recycling are met by all our members and those involved in the energy from waste sector.”
Further details of Greenpeace’s views are available at the Greenpeace website.