The Environmental Services Association has blasted the authors of a report looking at emissions from energy from waste (EfW) plants for producing an “entirely notional, yet emotive, outcome”.
The report, ‘Health Effects due to Emissions from Energy from Waste Plant in London’, claims the deaths of 15 Londoners per year are attributable to emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from the capital’s five EfW facilities (see letsrecycle.com story).
In a statement given to letsrecycle.com today (22 October), the ESA said: “This report echoes the well-established scientific consensus that any health risks associated with modern, well-run, energy recovery facilities are extremely low, if detectable at all.
“It is therefore disappointing that its authors have chosen to extrapolate emissions data to produce an entirely notional, yet emotive, outcome that only serves to raise unnecessary concern and opposition towards a technology that successfully serves a vital public function.”
The ESA is the trade association representing the UK’s resource and waste management sector.
The ESA statement continued: “In accordance with the waste hierarchy, energy recovery facilities divert millions of tonnes of UK waste from landfill every year. Their operation is approved by Public Health England and permitted by the Environment Agency and each plant is only granted a permit if the Agency determines it is in an appropriate location; any and all appropriate risk mitigation is in place; and the plant can meet its permit conditions.
“In particular, very strict emissions limits are imposed upon them and performance against these limits is monitored closely by the Environment Agency.”
The report was written by Air Quality Consultants Ltd and commissioned in 2019 by the Greater London Authority (GLA), which includes the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. It was published on 26 August.
Alongside studying London’s five EfW facilities, the researchers separately undertook a review of ‘relevant literature’. From this, they concluded that any potential health risks associated with direct emissions from “modern, effectively managed and regulated” EfW plants in London were “exceedingly low”.