VEOLIA’S confident assertion that the plume of smoke emanating from their chimney is just steam is itself nothing but hot air.
The facts are somewhat different. Each year, 225,000 tonnes of waste go in but, through oxidation, about 7.5 times as much polluted exhaust gases are generated – more than one and a half million tonnes of the stuff, or four million cubic metres per day.
While it is indeed correct that a significant proportion of this will be water (and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and poisonous carbon monoxide), it will include 12 tonnes of hydrochloric acid, 74 tonnes of sulphurous oxides and 297 tonnes of nitrous oxides, the equivalent of 70,000 cars travelling 30km.
On leaving the stacks the oxides of nitrogen and sulphur dioxide will go on to create 300 tonnes per year of secondary particles by, for example, reacting with sunlight to produce low-level ozone. All of the above will be extremely damaging to property, crops and health.
The latest 2011 European and UK study has estimated the cost of this damage to be somewhere between £1 million and £5 million.
I wonder who will be paying for this damage. Add on to this the cocktail of 250 toxic or potentially toxic substances, absorbed in the copious quantities of dust being spewed out (which include cadmium, lead, mercury, volatile hydrocarbons and dioxins) and it is not difficult to see why the experts, Government apart, claim so many people will be killed, maimed and have their life expectancy reduced.
It is disingenuous for the Environment Agency to report that the incinerator is monitored continually for emissions.
Their risk assessment has been compiled on a mere handful of substances, and, of the hundreds of chemicals produced, only about 160 are required to be reported to them under a process of self-regulation by Veolia.
Even some of these (including dioxins and furans) are only tested infrequently, as little as twice a year, or less.
The actual continually monitored element is tiny in relation to the millions of possible chemical combinations. Anyone walking in the Valley Road area of town last weekend will be able to testify, from their first hand experience of the gritty sensation of the air and the smell and taste that accompanied it, how poorly served they are by the present monitoring set-up.
If Veolia don’t like people complaining, they will have to stick it up their pipe and smoke it, which is surely infinitely preferable to drinking a cup of tea made with water from their boiling kettle!