Radioactive and nuclear waste included in incinerator deal

Croydon Council has admitted that “the worst possible radioactive and nuclear waste” is included in the contract for the incinerator planned for Beddington Lane, and the council has been updating its mass casualty disaster planning as a consequence.

These two snippets of disturbing information arose from an answer from Tory council cabinet member Simon Hoar in response to a public question by local Friends of the Earth activist Jim Clugston.

Hoar and his colleagues in the Conservative cabinet which controls Croydon Council will be meeting in secret tonight to rubber-stamp the selection of a contractor for a £1 billion waste incinerator project which, just last year, Croydon’s Conservatives pledged to the electorate would not be built “in or near” the borough.

Croydon’s Brave Leader, Mike Fisher, and Steve O’Connell, Britain’s most overpaid local councillor, who is also the London Assembly member for Croydon and Sutton, are expected to support moves tonight to approve Viridor as the preferred bidder for a scheme to which even their Conservative colleagues in neighbouring Sutton are opposed.

In his answer to council last month, Hoar admitted that the contract for the incinerator “covers the full spectrum of normal waste through to the worst possible radioactive and nuclear waste etc.”

Hoar, who represents people in Waddon whose air quality is very likely to be affected by an operating incinerator, also said, “There are no plans to process radioactive and nuclear waste at the new transfer site”.

This, though, prompts the question why such materials would be included in the specification for the incinerator and the contract, since the engineering required to deal with such hazardous waste products would add significantly to the cost of building and managing the facility.

Hoar’s answer also states that the council has “been revisiting and refreshing our plans particularly to mass evacuation and mass casualties as well as other shelter arrangements for those evacuated”.

Hoar, Fisher and O’Connell were among all the local Tories’ candidates, together with Gavin Barwell MP, who in May 2010 endorsed a website posting that said, “we have made it absolutely clear that Croydon Conservatives do not support incineration at all and will absolutely not have an incinerator in our borough or support one close to our borders”.

Given the apparent U-turn on the development of an incinerator, there is a serious credibility gap. Can further assurances about expensive provision for handling toxic radioactive and nuclear waste ever be trusted?

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