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Campaigner claims cancer-causing incinerator would be a disaster for Flintshire

Campaigner backs community leaders fight to make sure incinerator isn’t located in Deeside. KATHRYN QUAYLE reports

ARDENT anti-incinerator campaigners are stepping up their fight against a proposed ‘energy-from-waste’ (EfW) plant in Deeside – after claims they are linked to cancer and high death rates among babies and children.

Connah’s Quay councillors Bernie Attridge and Aaron Shotton have said they will campaign tirelessly to ensure a waste-burning facility is not dumped on their doorstep.

Last week Michael Ryan, 62, from Shrewsbury, contacted the Chronicle after reading about the councillors’ campaign against incineration to share the findings of his research.

Retired civil engineer Mr Ryan and fellow researcher Dr Dick van Steenis claim families living near incinerators are more at risk from infant death, heart disease, cancer and autism.

“Babies are more likely to die if they are exposed to dangerous particles and fumes from incinerators,” said Mr Ryan, who has studied Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures showing infant mortality rates ward by ward across the UK.

He claims areas downwind of the South East London Combined Heat and Power Plant (SELCHPP) in Deptford have an infant mortality rate more than four times higher than wards upwind of the facility.

“And it’s a frightening trend that is repeated across the country, I wouldn’t like to see this happen in Flintshire,” said Mr Ryan.

Mr Ryan began two years of research after his son David was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1995.

Despite receiving a bone marrow transplant his immune system was weakened by treatment and he died from pneumonia in March 1999, aged 19 .

Mr Ryan said: “I was sat by his bedside and watched him take his last breath.

“Soon after I discovered another boy in David’s class had died of leukaemia and there were other cases. Then I began to think there must be a connection.”

Mr Ryan, who has two surviving sons, added: “My family tragedy is being repeated across the country.”

The team leading the North Wales Residual Waste Treatment Project (NWRWTP) – a partnership between Flintshire, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd councils – maintains no decisions have been made on the location of a waste treatment plant or the technology which will be used.

Anglesey was recently earmarked as a second possible location for a plant to treat North Wales’s residual waste – up to 150,000 tonnes a year – after Deeside was initially the only suggested site.

But project chiefs admit an EfW plant – also known as an incinerator – is one of the options being explored.

Three waste management companies have been shortlisted for the NWRWTP contract and will soon submit detailed bids for evaluation.

Health officials have always insisted incinerators do not pose significant health risks.

In a statement issued to the Chronicle the Health Protection Agency said: “Modern, well managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants.

“It is possible that such small additions could have an impact on health, but such effects, if they exist, are likely to be very small and not detectable.

“However, we recognise that there are real public concerns about this issue.

“For these reasons we are in discussions with researchers at Imperial College London about a potential study into birth outcomes around municipal waste incinerators and a detailed proposal for what will be a complex study is being drawn up.”

But Cllr Attridge said Mr Ryan’s claims are ‘frightening’.

And he told the Chronicle that until he sees evidence to say incinerators are not harmful he will keep on fighting.

“I have three children myself,” he said. “I want proof that it isn’t going to pose a health hazard.”

Cllr Shotton added: “There are other methods of waste disposal. We don’t want them to put an incinerator here.

“I call on the Health Protection Agency to begin research as soon as possible.”