Incineration of wastes is uneconomical and burdens the environment by emissions of highly toxic substances. While autoclaves, composting plants, and separation and recycling lines are being built in a number of neighbouring countries, construction of 10 new incinerators was discussed in the Czech Republic during the last year. Arnika points out this fact just today, because September 7, 2005, was declared Global Day Against Waste and Incinerators by the international network GAIA (1). This year is already the fourth one when this day was declared. During this week it will be supported by over 200 non-governmental organisations from more than 50 countries of the world.
In the last year, construction of incinerators was considered in Žatec, Kroměříž, Jihlava, Polička or Pardubice, Plzeň, Prague, Opatovice, Mydlovary (2), Ostrava and Mladá Boleslav. In some of the cities (for example Prague - Císařský ostrov), planning of the projects was suspended. However, plans for construction of incinerators are still highly topical at least in the last four localities.
Although it should not be allowed to build an incinerator releasing toxic substances into air in excessively high concentrations, the newly considered plants represent increase of burden of our environment by highly toxic dioxins and similar substances. „For example, according to the plan of the incinerator in Opatovice, toxic mixture of ash and fly ash should be used for construction purposes, or deposited on an unsecured landfill, similarly as in the case of the municipal waste incinerator in Liberec. It means that the planned construction of incinerators is in contradiction with the obligation adopted by the Czech Republic by ratification of the Stockholm Convention,“ stated Jindřich Petrlík, DSc, chairman of Arnika, in connection with the present day.
“Thanks to our accession to the EU, validity of the limit for dioxin emissions (3) into air was finally successfully achieved. However, still bigger problem is now represented by fly ashes from waste incinerators, which end, without control, on places where toxic wastes of this kind definitely do not belong - in recultivations, in underground mines, or even in embankments of roads,” described Milan Havel, MSc, from the Arnika Association, one of the problems connected with incineration of wastes in the Czech Republic.
„If we take protection of our fragile planet seriously, reduction of toxic substance releases and reduction of amounts of wastes must belong to priorities on global, as well as on local, levels. Promotion of sustainable alternatives to waste incineration will bring a whole number of benefits, from protection of breast milk against contamination by toxic substances, up to reduction of production of greenhouse gases endangering global climate,“ said coordinator of the GAIA network, Manny Calonzo from Philippines, in connection with the present Global Day Against Waste and Incinerators.
A number of studies already showed that waste incinerators are „carcinogenic“ plants producing hundreds of toxic substances, such as dioxins and heavy metals. These toxic substances cause a whole number of health problems such as cancer, reproduction defects in the case of adults and development defects in the case of children, they harm immune and hormonal systems of people. Arnika took part in a global project which showed that incineration of wastes causes, apart from other things, contamination of eggs of hens kept by individual households. One of the places where this was proved was vicinity of a medical waste incinerator in Philippines.
„Majority of things that we declare to be waste and let them carelessly to be transformed into a cocktail of toxic substances in incinerators, or deposit them without use on landfills, can be reused. It means that an alternative to incinerators definitely are not landfills, but reuse of useless things and materials. Waste is raw material, and it is cheaper to use it than to incinerate it expensively,“ stated Milan Havel, MSc.
On the occasion of the Global Day Against Waste and Incinerators, Arnika prepared continuation of the petition action Toxics Free Future II (4) till the end of the week. The petition requires, apart from other things, tightening of conditions for management of fly ashes from incinerators. The Arnika Association also started works on a „zero waste“ study in the conditions of states of central and south-eastern Europe.
(1) GAIA (Global Alliance for Incineration Alternatives) is a global network associating over 500 non-governmental organisations and personalities from 77 countries of the world. It was established in the South African Republic in 2000. On the foundation meeting, the Czech Republic was represented by the present chairman of the Arnika Association, Jindřich Petrlík, M.S. In addition to Arnika, the Rainbow Movement is member of the alliance in the Czech Republic. GAIA focuses on promotion of alternatives to municipal waste incineration, especially on so-called „zero waste“ strategy. More information on this strategy can be found on www pages of the project „Waste is Raw Material“ . The centre of GAIA is in Manila in Philippines, and its second main office is in Berkeley in California. These cities belong to the ones that adopted the „zero waste“ strategy.
(2) Although the intention to construct an incinerator in Mydlovary did not get through into the Regional Waste Management Plan, the Jihočeská energetika (South Bohemian Energy) company continues in preparatory works of the project, and now the process of issuance of an IPPC (= Integrated Pollution Prevention Control) permit is under way on the project of the incinerator.