We can't play down the risks

First published in Letters

I WISH to point out that your recent front page headline about the Northwich waste incinerator which read ‘Experts say you are not at risk’ was inaccurate and misleading for a number of reasons which I will try to summarise below.

Perhaps of most relevance is the fact that the actual words used by Health Protection England in its letter to the Environment Agency about the Northwich plant in December 2012 were that a well managed and well regulated incinerator would produce emissions that ‘should pose little risk to the health of local residents’.

Not a categorical or unconditional ok as the report in the Guardian implied.

It would really come down to trusting TATA and E.ON to obey all the rules all of the time and even then there is the debate about what constitutes a ‘small risk’.

The bottom line is that even the Government health experts who are not known for their opposition to waste incinerators, do not go as far as your headline indicated and it is only fair that your readers are made aware of this.

The key point about building a huge waste incinerator the size of Wembley Stadium burning 150,000 lbs of garbage every single hour, at the edge of Northwich town centre is that all of the projections about health effects are guesswork based on modelling and extrapolation.

This is simply because an incinerator of the size TATA and E.ON want to build located in a heavily populated residential area simply does not exist at the present time and there is no actual experience on which to base judgement.

This is very scary for a lot of people in and around our town and organisations such as the Environment Agency, who are supposed to protect the public, do not inspire confidence by playing down the risks.

Liam Byrne Little Leigh Northwich

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