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For Immediate Release: February 20, 2002

HRB Research comments

Daddy or Chips  sorry  Incineration or Landfill

The  report, Health and Environmental Effects of Landfilling and Incineration of Waste -commissioned by the Health Research Board (HRB) at the request of the Department of the Environment and Local Government clearly shows that there is no evidence available to indicate that incineration or landfill is a safe form of waste treatment. This is a clear message to Ireland that incineration is not the answer to our waste question and that the reliance on a crude form of landfill in the country has to change in having double lined landfill sites and better methane emission control.

C H A S E  maintains, "with insufficient resources to carry out adequate risk assessments for proposed waste management facilities and serious data gaps in relation to the environmental effects of landfill and incineration, incineration should be prohibited and waste problems should be rectified urgently with serious investigation into the cowboy management of our landfill carried out".  In the findings in relation to the health effects of landfilling and incineration the report had certain favoritism towards pushing incineration as the best option in two areas. Dr Crowley leading the research team concluded that the disposal of municipal solid waste through the incineration method produces a range of volatile and gaseous emissions, which, if released to the atmosphere, can compromise environmental quality, emphasising the fact that this report is based on studies relating to older incineration technologies and pointed out that new and planned incinerators will work to EU Directives which puts a greater emphasis on energy efficiency, residuals management and the reduction of natural resource consumption than was present heretofore.

In relation to the environmental effects of landfill, Dr Crowley said that landfills are a potential threat to the quality of the environment, contributing 20 per cent of the total global anthropogenic methane emissions. For older unlined waste disposal sites, leachate can migrate to groundwater or even into surface waters, however the risks are considerably reduced for modern double-lined landfills.

Firstly, what was not pointed out is the fact that the content and effect of landfill can be changed and treated making it safer where incineration either old or new is still a crude technology, burning quantities of unknown waste, 10% which can be medical waste, where the effect remains the same.

Secondly, no emphasis was place on the fact that the risk of landfill is geographically located to the area it is located in and can be controlled to a certain extent, as opposed to incineration where the risks end in the atmosphere with no realistic way of control and in the toxic ash which still has to be landfilled.

CHASE - Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment, 1 Lower Midleton Street, Cobh, Cork
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