‘People will be dying if this incinerator goes ahead’ claim at inquiry

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 October 2013

An artist's impression of the New Barnfield incinerator from the air

An artist's impression of the New Barnfield incinerator from the air


An expert witness who claims the proposed New Barnfield waste incinerator will not endanger health was yesterday publicly challenged by a consultant – who warned “people will be dying” if it is built.

Professor Jim Bridges, called by energy firm Veolia, which plans to build the 380,000-tonne-a-year plant, told a public inquiry the danger to health would be “minimal”.

But he admitted a substance emitted from the plant could cause lung cancer.

Professor Bridges said that while older incinerators might pose some dangers, those built since the 1990s were much safer.

But he was challenged by public health consultant Margaret Eames, who lives in The Acorns, Hatfield.

He claimed: “A modern plant that complies with the waste incineration directive emission limits will have a minimal impact, either on locally grown food, or on the exposure of members of the local population to these chemicals.”

Professor Bridges acknowledged chromium VI, which will be emitted by the incinerator, could cause lung cancer – but claimed the risk to somebody with regular exposure was just one in 10 million.

Professor Bridges was not challenged by barristers representing Hatfield Against Incineration or Welwyn Hatfield Council.

Mrs Eames, formerly head of public health intelligence for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, confronted Professor Bridges with a World Health Organisation report, published in July this year.

The report probes the risks of tiny particles, known as PM2.5s, concluding high atmospheric levels can cause heart attacks, asthma, and other serious health problems.

Mrs Eames, who will be giving her own detailed evidence on October 22, told Professor Bridges: “It will be too late if this incinerator is built if there is a health impact.

“People will be dying if you leave it to be built.”

She argued the PM2.5 level at the South Way and Travellers Lane roundabout was already dangerous, thanks to heavy traffic, and would be made worse by the incinerator.

Professor Bridges, who accused her of quoting selectively from the report, responded that the change to air pollution from the extra incinerator traffic would be very small.

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