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Fresh fears over incinerator

Mar 30 2007

By Lisa De Sousa

FRESH fears have been raised about the safety of the controversial Colnbrook incinerator after a cyclist spotted a plume of dark smoke billowing out of one of the chimneys.
The smoke was seen drifting towards Colnbrook village last Saturday.
The cyclist was so concerned, he contacted Cllr Neil Arnold (Ind: Langley St Mary's) who went along and filmed the smoke with a video camera.
The ten-minute film, a copy of which has been seen by the Express, shows a mixture of dark and white fumes coming out of one of the chimneys.
Cllr Arnold expressed concerns about the colour of the smoke.
He said: "There has been much comment about the incinerator and we are unfortunately lumbered with it.
"However, we were promised that this would be 'state of the art' and 'as safe as a garden barbecue'.
"But what we have got is something that appears to be producing dark smoke intermittently and no guide to the general public as to what is good and what is not in terms of pollution."
He added: "This smoke was coming from the 'small' incinerator which burns 1.5 tonnes an hour.
"What will happen when the main installation is built and it consumes 54 tonnes per hour, 24 tonnes a day?"
"Incineration is a Third World technology which is at best 26% efficient.
"We need to have adequate controls for such an installation and I personally do not believe these are available."
Recently the Express reported how a group of west London councils launched a High Court battle to send their rubbish to the Colnbrook incinerator against the wishes of London mayor Ken Livingstone.
The mayor wants the councils to use more environmentally friendly waste disposal methods and tried to block their bid for an incineration contract.
Just recently residents in Virginia Water launched their own campaign to stop another waste incineration plant being built on their doorstep.
A spokesperson for Slough Borough Council, which also received a copy of Mr Arnold's video tape, said it would be sending a copy to the Environment Agency.
But David Ferguson, of the Environment Agency, said 'white smoke can appear black' in low level light conditions.
He said that the Environment Agency had received reports of black smoke coming from the incinerator two days earlier but said monitoring data put pollution levels within 'agreed limits'.
But he said: "We have not received any information about an incident on Saturday, March 24, and the company has not reported that its consents have been breached.
"They are required to report breaches and other incidents by a condition in their permit to operate the incinerator.
"Therefore it is likely that the 'smoke' seen on March 24 was once again steam viewed during poor light conditions.
The Express contacted Grundon, which owns the Colnbrook plant, on Wednesday morning but at the time of going to press on Thursday the company had failed to respond.