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Crymlyn Burrows Incinerator

A small village in south Wales is next to the site of a planned waste incinerator, but the members of the community - Crymlyn Burrows - think the whole idea is complete rubbish...

In 1998 the Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council held meetings with local residents of Crymlyn Burrows to tell them about this 'recycling facility' project which was to be built in the neighbourhood, that would recycle everything possible, and 'produce energy from the tiny bit which could not be recycled'. Sounds great but the council artist's impression of the facility failed to feature one rather important aspect of the plant: incinerator stacks. They were planning to build an incinerator but when we found out about the dangers of this we formed a local resistance campaign.

In January 2001, we found out that there was a chance to stop the incinerator, if we all pulled together. Stop the Incinerator Campaign (StIC) was formed, with Mike Ryan 43, a resident of Crymlyn Burrows and father of two, elected as Chairperson. Objections from every house in Crymlyn Burrows had been made to the council (though now with hindsight we realise that no matter what our objections, the council were determined to do it). We organised a protest march to raise public awareness, and the community led campaign began. There was loads of press coverage, and much public support with people protesting against the incinerator ranging from the elderly to young parents with babies.

The IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control - the licence necessary to allow the Waste Management Facility to operate - we call it a 'Insidious Permit to Poison Children') was applied for on 1st March 2001, giving residents one month to make their observations. Information tables were set up in Swansea and Neath with leaflets and petitions, protests were held outside the Civic Centre, Environment Agency and Health Authority; and marches through the streets of Neath and Swansea were held. One of our protests involved a tripod set up at the plant gates, with a campaign member suspended from the centre: this prevented traffic flow to the plant, and workers were sent home. On another occasion, campaign members were outside the plant gates, handing out leaflets to the contractors advising them of the severe ground contamination in which they were working. One of our boys handcuffed himself to the steps of a large crane entering the facility and his refusal to unlock himself resulted in the driver getting out his toolkit, unbolting the steps and calmly driving into work, leaving 'Thomas Tree' outside, still handcuffed to the steps.!

BBC Wales' "Week In Week Out" covered the story, and they looked at the Portuguese company HLC who were to operate the incineration plant. We heard about dodgy HLC dealings in Portugal and France and their (a little bit worrying) lack of experience in incineration. The managing director stated that 'dioxins do not cause cancer', and that the company had 'no track record in incineration' (well that's in safe hands then - ed). Teresa Brzoza, founder member of PAIN (Parents Against INcinerators), a group who worked alongside StIC, was interviewed on behalf of the two campaign groups.

The famous protest camp, set up by Vince and Mike has received a removal notice (pending the 22nd May 2002) from Swansea Council. It has served as a constant reminder to everyone passing by on the busy dual carriageway, that the incinerator was here, but there are already plans to replace it in the very near future - watch this space.

I initially became involved in the campaign due to concerns regarding the impact of the facility on the health of my children. After searching the internet the report 'Incineration - The British Government Ignores the Danger to Health' found on www.cqs.com made me realise that the Government could not be trusted. I have now seen for myself that none of the associated local authorities really represent the needs of the public. I am disgusted that the authorities are allowing this monstrosity to be built at all, let alone where little children live, play and go to school. I am disillusioned by the attitudes of the Borough Council, the Health Authority and the Environment Agency, who are all refusing to acknowledge sound scientific evidence that incineration is dangerous. The Authorities will not acknowledge the health effects of PM2.5s - the tiny dust particles emitted during industrial processes such as incineration, which can be inhaled deep into the lungs where your body's own defence mechanism cannot remove them, thus causing permanent lung problems. They insist that monitoring and abating PM10s is sufficient, as this complies with the European Waste Incineration Directive. (PM10s are much larger dust particles, which get caught in the upper respiratory tract, but can be removed by coughing or sneezing, apparently).

And as for that 'recycling scheme' the council talked about in the first place? They introduced the scheme a couple of years ago and then stated that it did not work because 'people couldn't be bothered' to recycle.


On Thursday the 9th May 2002, the Environment Agency announced its decision to grant the IPPC operating licence to HLC, even though no health risk assessment has been carried out on another unsavoury aspect of the refuse plant: the composting activity. The composter will release a bio aerosol of tiny particles, containing fungal spores and human pathogens into the environment - as if the incinerator emissions alone weren't enough to worry about! Those most at risk? According to the Environment Agency, the people living within 250 metres of the plant - the residents of Crymlyn Burrows. Particles from incinerators have the potential to travel airborn for great distances depending on prevailing winds - up to 50 miles according to one pollution expert.

For every planned and operating incinerator in Britain, there is a campaign, but in general the public are not made aware of the extreme dangers of this form of waste disposal.

Visit StIC website www.stic.org.uk

An Offer You Can't Refuse

The plant will take 166,000 tonnes of refuse per year. 31,700 tonnes of this will be sorted to go for recycling - a paltry 19.1%. 53,490 tonnes per year will be composted, that's 32.2% (even though the compost will have to be landfilled because it's substandard and contains animal matter). The rejects, which will go straight to landfill will constitute 17% of the refuse at 28,310 tonnes. The remaining 52,500 tonnes, or 31.6%, will be incinerated. If we total everything up, we will see that, apart from the miniscule amount of recyclate, the waste has not been reduced at all. It has, in actual fact simply changed into toxic emissions, toxic ashes and toxic landfill. In simple terms, out of the total 166,000 tonnes of waste accepted by the plant each year, 31,700 tonnes will be recycled; 63,460 tonnes will go to landfill; and 70,840 tonnes will be released into the air.