MP raises cancer fears over incinerator plan

NW Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham. Picture; Matthew Usher.

NW Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham. Picture; Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Concerns have been raised in Parliament that a proposed incinerator in Norfolk may release toxic substances that increase the risk of cancer.

The fears were voiced by North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham during a House of Commons debate last night.

He argued the incinerator plant would filter out many substances it emitted, but that some smaller particles, such as nitrogen oxide, mercury, lead and dioxins, would escape.

In particular he highlighted a study by the British Society of Ecological Medicine which explored the health affects of waste incinerators.

He said: 'They particularly focus on those people, the very young and the very old, who might have a pre-existing respiratory condition.

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'And what they say is some of the dioxins, particularly dioxins called [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons], can actually have an affect on people with pre-exisitng conditions.

'They estimate that the increase in the lung cancer risk goes up by 7.8 times which I find really very high.'

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He pointed out that the substances were 'bio-accumluative' meaning they did not break down naturally and could build up in ecosystems and in the food chain.

He went on: 'What it means is if this if this incinerator was located up wind of King's Lynn there could be an impact on people's health.

'We don't know for sure but I would just suggest that on the precautionary principle alone we would not put it in this location.'

A spokesman from the consortium behind the incinerator, Cory Wheelabrator, said the plan had been 'exhaustively evaluated' by the Environment Agency and granted an environment permit.

However after yesterday's debate Mr Bellingham told the Eastern Daily Press that he planned to write to the agency and raise questions about the suitability of one of the firms in the consortium.

During the debate he highlighted how Wheelabrator had ended up making payments in the Unites States in order to settle allegations that the firm's facilities had breached environmental regulation.

Mr Bellingham argued that the technology being used in the incinerator was out of date and that other means of recycling waste to be burnt there should be employed.

In particular he highlighted a recent contract signed by King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council to send waste to an anaerobic digester, which then turned it into materials usable in the construction industry.

He said: 'I believe there are cheaper better and more modern and more exciting alternatives which command public support.'

Responding for the government in the debate planning minister Nick Boles said he could not discuss the case in detail in advance of a planning inquiry into the incinerator proposal due next month.

However, he said: 'That public inquiry will give [Mr Bellingham] and the people he represents so capably every opportunity to develop those views, to put their arguments and to have them tested by a planning inspector.

'That is what will inform a decision that the secretary of state will ultimately make. I cannot promise him of course that the decision will be a decision he will welcome.

'But what I can promise him is that the process of arriving at that precision will be thorough, will be open and will give his constituents and him every opportunity to make their case.'

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