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Dear Mike,

This sounds a lot like the incinerators that get promoted in many countries.
I'm not surprised it's cheap if there are no air pollution devices! In more
high tech burners, these can make up half of the capital cost (which can
easily run $400 million, even as high as $800 million).

You are absolutely right to be dubious about the claim that pollutants like
dioxin would not be emitted from an incinerator, especially one without flue
gas devices. One of the major times that dioxins are formed in incinerators
is as the gases cool after incineration itself happens. With flue gas
devices, less dioxin would be released to the air, but that's not a solution
to the whole problem because the captured dioxin is transferred to the fly
ash, resulting in more toxic ash. Even with flue gas devices, dioxins, other
organic compounds, particulates, and other pollutants would still be

As Alan pointed out, emissions of heavy metals like mercury, lead and
cadmium would also be a great concern. There are a great number of other
pollutants from municipal waste incinerators. An especially helpful resource
on the emissions and releases from incinerators is at
Please see pages 79-81 in this report for a list of different pollutants
emitted by municipal waste incinerators.

Many other reports are found on our website at

Regarding ash disposal: there are a number of recent studies about the
toxicity of ash and problems with landfilling the ash (and as you suspect,
an unlined landfill would be a problem even faster). I'll send those to you
in a separate email so I don't clog up this email list (but if anyone else
wants them, please just write to me).

If you have any other questions, please email me.

Thanks, Monica

Monica Wilson
GAIA: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives/ Global Anti-Incinerator
1442A Walnut St #20, Berkeley, CA 94709 USA
+1-510-883-9490 ext. 103, mwilson@no.address
In the U.S., GAIA is a project of the Berkeley Ecology Center,

-----Original Message-----
From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf
Of Alan Muller
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 9:48 AM
To: michael cowing; GreenYes@no.address; mjcowing04@no.address

Just a very quick reply:

I know waste disposal can be a specially tough issue for island
communities, but an incinerator is a very poor idea, will all sorts
of possibilities for creating health and environmental problems. Air
pollution, water pollution, ash disposal, real cost, health of
workers and the general public....all are hard--sometimes
impossible--to manage and it is not to be expected that Anguilla
would have the technical and regulatory infrastructure to deal with
these issues on a continuing basis. Incinerators can be marketed as
the clever, simple, almost magical solution to waste problems, but it
never turns out that way.

To respond to just two points you raise: Heavy metals are elements
and cannot be destroyed at any temperature short of the
nuclear. Medical wastes tend to be loaded with chlorinated plastics
that produce dioxin-family compounds when burned. These compounds
may not be present during high-temperature combustion but may form in
the off-gasses downstream.

Sometimes the real marketing point on air pollution is some version
of "put it on the lee side of the island and all the fumes will blow

More people can be usefully employed in "zero waste" programs than in
feeding burners.....


Alan Muller

At 12:37 PM 9/6/2006 +0000, michael cowing wrote:

>Dear colleagues
>I know that the subject of incinerators is an emotive one at the
>best of times, but I am looking for some advice.
>I am working as an advisor to the Government of Anguilla (small
>island in British West Indies) and an international company has made
>a proposal to provide a small incinerator to dispose of household,
>industrial and medical waste.
>It appears a cheap option, but they are not proposing to provide any
>gas emission equipment to clean the flue gases, advising that at the
>incinerator's high operating temperatures (close to 1,000 C) , all
>items of concern such as furans, dioxins and heavy metals are
>completely destroyed. I am dubious, is this correct ?
>Also, they advise that it is acceptable to dispose of the bottom and
>fly ash within the unlined disposal site, which is adjacent to the
>coast - again I have my reservations, any advice/information would
>be gratefully received.
>Mike Cowing.
Alan Muller, Executive Director
Green Delaware
Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
fax (302)836-3005

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