Firm behind King’s Lynn incinerator pays �4.5 million after environmental claims

Wheelabrator settles out of court after whistle blowers raise concerns

One of the companies behind plans to bring a waste incinerator to King's Lynn has paid more than �4.5 million in America to settle a legal claim alleging breaches of environmental laws.

Wheelabrator Technologies runs three incinerators in Masssachusetts and whistle blowers triggered an investigation after claiming the company did not dispose of ash or contaminated water correctly.

The case never came to court and the company did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the $7.5 million settlement it made.

The investigation started when two former empployees and one current staff member filed a law suit against the company and its parent company, Waste Management Inc.

Environmental officials in Massachusetts said inspections at the plants within the last month found no current threat to public health or the environment and procedural changes had been made to comply with the state law.

The allegations claimed that waste ash had been transported to landfill without treatment; ash escaped through a hole in the roof of one of the plants and ash was dumped on ice which collapsed and allowed 15,000 gallons of contaminated water and waste to escape into wetlands.

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Wheelabrator is part of the Cory Wheelabrator consortium which plans to build a waste incinerator on the Saddlebow industrial estate on the edge of King's Lynn.

Norfolk County council has appointed the consortium as its preferred contractor for the project which has caused outcry in West Norfolk.

The news comes just days after the Government announced it was looking to commission a study from London's Imperial University into health issues and incinerators.

Campaigners against the Lynn plant have claimed throughout that the incinerator would present an unacceptable health risk to residents in the area - an allegation denied by both the county council and Cory Wheelabrator.

A statement from Wheelabrator issued today said:'As part of Wheelabrator's commitment to continuous improvement, we have thoroughly reviewed our Massachusetts operations and made organisational changes and process improvements to further strengthen our environmental performance. The company has always been committed to leadership and continuous improvement in environmental compliance, employee health and safety, and customer and community service.'

For the full story see tomorrow's EDP