Public debate in Lysa nad Labem made the Czech Minister of Environment visit incinerator

21.5.2002 - Lysá nad Labem

"Citizens of Lysá nad Labem unanimously refused further operation of hazardous waste incinerator, placed on hill Šibák above the town. Almost 100 people took part in a public debate in local cinema on Monday evening. Their objections made Czech Minister of Environment Milos Kuzvart say: "Is this true? I must see it. We are going right now". He did so after poeple´s remarks according which the company Rean is not running the incinerator in accordance with law. "We know that a thick black smoke comes out from chimney at night. My car is sometimes covered by ash. Hazardous waste is placed right in uncovered yard. Does anyone think this is okay?," said one of inhabitants."

Minister went to see the incinerator before 10 p.m. together with his colleague and with another person from the Czech Environmental Inspection. However, people from the incinerator were present at the discussion too, and warned their colleagues in the plant so that the minister found the incinerator´s gate locked. Anyway, his colleague - head of waste section of the ministry, did the inspection before the debate when she simply entered unsecured area around the incinerator. "It is alarming (i.e. the fact the plant has no proper guard) as there is a hazardous waste in the area. Someone with bad intentions could simply come and cause a serious accident. Another risk is that for instance little children may come and open a sack with infectious waste which I have seen behind a fence in a yard this afternoon," ARNIKA´s head of programme Toxics And Waste Jindřich Petrlík commented on the situation.

People from Lysá spoke mainly about their worries of their and their children´s health. The also made objections concerning quality of atmosphere on housing estate near the incinerator. Mr. Vesely, member of local gardening association said: "All of our 120 members are against the incinerator as we think it devaluates all what we grow here." Others pointed on decrease of estates´ value in the town and asked if the town is going to compensate them in case they will have to move out to cleaner area.

Citizens further criticized insufficient steps of authorities against the plant. Minister Kužvart said that, in order to be objective, another measurement of pollutants must be done by the end of May and another inspection of incinerator´s work in general and of its environmental impacts must be done.

Local representatives interrupted their session for half an hour to come and take part in the debate. People asked them about their approach to the incinerator. "I want to know for whom I shall vote," they said.

Mayor of the City Lysa nad Labem, Vaclav Houstecky summarized the answer: "The town is so far tending not to support the plant. This approach is reflected also in our negative standpoint concerning construction of steam piping which plants' management planned to build." However the citizens blamed the local representatives that they had not accused the incinerator due to a debt now exceeding 17 million CZK and had not declared its bankruptcy. The officials opposed that it would not solve the problem because in such case the plant would be bought by another operator.

But according to ARNIKA there is no reason for further running of the plant. "Its annual capacity is 3,500 tonnes of incinerated waste but it is filled only by 20%. Furthermore, the waste is mostly transported from other districts. Further operation is hazardous not just to the quality of air but also of water. A serious accident may happen when the waste is treated insecurely," said Petrlík and reminded conclusions of expert assessment.

The final decision of the plant´s fate is to be made in few days by the local Construction Planning Office, the Czech Environmental Inspection, the District Office in Nymburk, the District Public Health Station and by the Regional Office of Central Bohemia.


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