* The Risks of Incinerators – A Science Based Analysis

On Friday, November 19, the Central Piedmont Sierra Club presented to the Mecklenburg County Waste Management Advisory Board (WMAB) ReVenture Advisory Council (RAC) a set of seven documents addressing economic, public health, public safety and environmental concerns of incinerators and offering a better solution, a Zero Waste strategy.

We encourage the members of the WMAB, RAC, elected officials, city and county staff, and concerned citizens to read these documents for a greater understanding of the risks associated with the proposed ReVenture waste incinerator that would burn our garbage, municipal solid waste, construction and demolition waste, and sewage sludge for the next twenty years.

Please clink on links to view reports.

1. “An Industry Blowing Smoke: 10 Reasons Why Gasification, Pyrolysis & Plasma Incineration Are Not “Green Solutions”

AN INDUSTRY BLOWING SMOKE . Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). June 2009.

Co-released by: Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League  www.bredl.org California Communities Against Toxics  www.stoptoxics.org Clean Water Action  www.cleanwateraction.org Energy Justice Network  www.energyjustice.net Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice  www.environmental-justice.org Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives  www.no-burn.org Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice  www.greenaction.org Toxics Action Center  www.toxicsaction.org

Reason #1: When compared to conventional mass burn incinerators, staged incinerators emit comparable levels of toxic emissions.

Reason #2: Emissions limits for incinerators (including mass burn, gasification, pyrolysis and plasma incineration) don’t ensure safety. Also, emissions from incinerators are not measured sufficiently and thus overall emissions levels reported can be misleading. In addition, emission limits are not always adequately enforced.

Reason #3: Gasification, pyrolysis and plasma incinerators have a dismal track-record plagued by malfunctions, explosions and shut-downs.

Reason #4: Staged incineration is not compatible with recycling; gasification, pyrolysis and plasma incinerators compete for the same financing and materials as recycling programs. Incineration also undermines efforts to minimize the production of toxic and unrecyclable materials.

Reason #5: Staged incinerators are often even more expensive and financially risky than mass burn incinerators.

Reason #6: Incinerators inefficiently capture a small amount of energy by destroying diminishing resources. Gasification, pyrolysis and plasma incinerators are even less efficient at generating electricity than mass burn incinerators.

Reason #7: Incinerating discarded materials depletes resources and in many cases permanently damages the natural environment.

Reason #8: Staged incineration technologies contribute to climate change, and investment in these technologies undermines truly climate-friendly solutions.

Reason #9: All types of incinerators require a large amount of capital investment, but they create relatively few jobs when compared to recycling and composting programs.

Reason #10: Wasting valuable natural resources in incinerators and landfills is avoidable and unnecessary.

2. “WASTE GASIFICATION: Impacts on the Environment and Public Health”

WASTE GASIFICATION Impact Health & Environment.   Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL). www.bredl.org February 2009.

“The false promise offered by gasification is that one single solution can solve all waste disposal problems. But municipal solid waste, household hazardous waste, commercial and industrial wastes, and so-called special wastes cannot be dumped in a hopper and gassed out of existence. Programs based on zero waste are the best means to ensure that the environment and public health are protected.”

3. “Incinerators in Disguise: Toxic Threat to Health, Environment, Pollution Prevention, and Renewable Energy”

INCINERATORS IN DISGUISE. Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice www.greenaction.org and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) www.no-burn.org . April 2006.

“Since 2003 numerous proposals for waste treatment facilities hoping to use plasma arc, pyrolysis, catalytic cracking and gasification technologies failed to receive final approval to operate when the claims of project proponents did not withstand public and governmental scrutiny of key claims.”

4. “Assessment of Materials Management Options for the Massachusetts Solid Waste Master Plan Review”

TELLUS REPORT.  (a.k.a. Tellus Report). Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. December 2008.

“From a lifecycle environmental emissions and energy perspective, source reduction, recycling and composting are the most advantageous management options for all (recyclable/compostable) materials in the waste stream. Several factors lead us to conclude that gasification and pyrolysis facilities are unlikely to play a major role in MSW management in Massachusetts by 2020.”

5. “The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators”.

HEALTH EFFECTS OF WASTE INCINERATORS.  4th Report of the British Society for Ecological Medicine. Second Edition. June 2008.

“Since the publication of this report, important new data has been published strengthening the evidence that fine particulate pollution plays an important role in both cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality (see section 3.1) and demonstrating that the danger is greater than previously realised. More data has also been released on the dangers to health of ultrafine particulates and about the risks of other pollutants released from incinerators (see section 3.4). With each publication the hazards of incineration are becoming more obvious and more difficult to ignore.

We also highlight recent research which has demonstrated the very high releases of dioxin that arise during start-up and shutdown of incinerators (section 11). This is especially worrying as most assumptions about the safety of modern incinerators are based only on emissions which occur during standard operating conditions. Of equal concern is the likelihood that these dangerously high emissions will not be detected by present monitoring systems for dioxins.

6. “Pelosi and Reid Biomass Letter by 90 US Scientists”


“Replacement of fossil fuels with bioenergy does not directly stop carbon dioxide emissions from tailpipes or smokestacks. Although fossil fuel emissions are reduced or eliminated, the combustion of biomass replaces fossil emissions with its own emissions (which may even be higher per unit of energy because of the lower energy to carbon ratio of biomass)… That creates a carbon debt, may reduce ongoing carbon uptake by the forest, and as a result may increase net greenhouse gas emissions for an extended time period and thereby undercut greenhouse gas reductions needed over the next several decades”

7. “Stop Trashing the Climate”

STOP TRASHING THE CLIMATE.  Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) www.ilsr.org , Eco-Cycle www.ecocycle.org and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) www.no-burn.org June 2008.

“Stop Trashing the Climate provides compelling evidence that preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling, and composting programs — that is, aiming for zero waste — is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies available for combating climate change. Significantly decreasing waste disposed in landfills and incinerators will reduce greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent to closing 21% of U.S. coal-fired power plants.”

Also Key Findings – Two page Handout. Stop Trashing the Climate Key Findings

This entry was posted in Charlotte, Incinerator, Incinerator Free Mecklenburg, Mecklenburg, ReVenture, Sierra Club. Bookmark the permalink.

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