DOVE, the anti Newhaven-incinerator group, are planning a protest at 9.30am on Tuesday June 26th outside County Hall, where a meeting is taking place concerning the compulsory purchase of land on North Quay, the proposed site of the incinerator, a necessary step for the building of the plant. Should we be making a fuss about this? If a recent independent scientific report is to be believed, well, yes we should. The report was written by Dr. Dick van Steenis, a revered toxicologist who has supplied data for a number of public inquiries. Van Steenis has studied the health statistics of those living near to fifteen incinerator plants. He has recently released a report revealing alarming information about the effect the Newhaven incinerator, which is planned to be up and running in 2010, will have on the lives of those unfortunate enough to be living within a 15-mile radius. In other words, us.
Incinerators have filters which take out 99 percent of dangerous particles from the smoke emitted from incinerators, but the remaining 1% contains enough toxins to have a significant effect on the health of those in the path of the fumes, especially young children. Van Steenis believes that pollutants will significantly increase rates of infant mortality, birth defects, autism, asthma and heart attacks, amongst other things. Veolia, who will operate the plant, claim that emissions will be in line with government regulations. Incinerator supporters point out that the plant will divert waste from landfill sites and will produce enough energy to power over 16,000 houses.
This isn’t a simple issue. There are pros and cons to the incineration of rubbish; we should be recycling most of the stuff which ends up in the plant anyway. But despite the potential risks to our health, we do not expect to see many Lewesians at the protest on Friday. Perhaps, ignoring the fact that winds will carry the toxins down the Ouse Valley, Lewes sees the incinerator as Newhaven’s problem.