Cancer warning over radioactive waste plans for incinerator

Beddington incinerator Apr 2019

Viridor’s incinerator at Beddington Lane is not yethe operators have a contract which includes disposing of radioactive waste

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The news, as revealed by Inside Croydon, that the Beddington Lane incinerator has a contract with Croydon Council to handle radioactive waste should be of grave concern to residents across south London, says JIM DUFFY

There are two sources of radioactive waste that are incinerated: from decommissioned or active nuclear power stations and other nuclear plants, for example experimental reactors; and medical radioactive waste from imaging equipment in hospitals.

The stated aim of the nuclear industry is to “reduce the volume” of radioactive waste.

The contract clause which demands that Viridor be able to dispose of radioactive waste at Beddington Lane

But radioactive particles cannot be destroyed or made less radioactive just by burning them.

The radioactive waste should be “concentrated and contained” so it can’t get into the environment. Instead, it is “diluted and dispersed” by incineration.

Studies show high levels of cancer near nuclear plants where radwaste incinerators operate and reactors vent radioactive gases into the air. Radioactive liquids are also discharged into the sea, where particles get resuspended into the air, breathed in by local communities.

Cancer levels here will soar if Viridor burns radioactive waste in Beddington.

  • Jim Duffy is a healthcare worker and former organiser of the campaign against nuclear development at Stop Hinkley

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8 Responses to Cancer warning over radioactive waste plans for incinerator

  1. Anthony Mills says:

    Good to have an expert opinion. I had difficulty believing that such materials were routinely incinerated as a method of disposal. I had assumed that they would be ”concentrated and contained” Though I now have doubts as to which is the greater hazard – to leave deposits of concentrated radioactive material in storage of greater or lesser security for our descendents to deal with, or to disperse the radioactive particles, which have been collected together by our activity, in a possibly less than democratic redistribution to the atmosphere via the incinerator chimney? How else to ensure a fair distribution of the hazard, which is not going to go away whatever we do with it? Distribute it demographically proportionately in aircraft fuel via regional airports? Or container ship diesel? Personally I favoured burying it in offshore geological subduction zones [at the edges of continental plates], until it was pointed out that would promote a fairly rapid [in geological timescales] recycling back via volcanoes and up-wellings like the mid-atlantic ridge…So possiby better to bury it in places of maximum geological stability such as the Deccan plateau in India, or the Laurentian Plateau aka the Canadian Shield. But then we have similar areas of stable pre-cambrian geology here in the UK, in Wales and Scotland….

    • Jim Duffy says:

      The consensus amongst NGOs is not to permit radioactive waste into the environment eg by incineration or dumping in the sea. Better to box it up securely and store it above ground so it can be monitored and maintained eg by renewing the packaging.
      Even better not to create any more as there are obvious risks as long as the nuclear industry keeps producing the deadly stuff.

  2. Lewis White says:

    How radioactive is this waste?
    How effectively would it be “diluted and dispersed”?.

    Maybe if the waste were very low in radioactivity, and the waste plume were whirled around, conveniently bearing the particles upwards, well away from the ground…

    In reality, the plume of smoke and less visible pollution from the Beddington Incinerator chimney will spread out gradually over several miles, so the pollution will not be magically dispersed.

    The idea of a plume of radioactive smoke dumping radiocative soot on the people of Beddington, Waddon, Broad Green, Thornton Heath, Norbury, West Croydon and Central Croydon (to mention just the nearest) does not bear thinking about.

    • Jim Duffy says:

      Hi Lewis,
      The radioactive waste that Viridor will be burning, if the Environment Agency gives a licence, is classified as Low Level Radioactive Waste. It ranks third out if four categories of risk. The problem with dispersing it is that the molecules are not destroyed. So if someone breathes in a particle it can trigger cancer and disrupt the DNA. It’s comparible with an open coal fire. Sitting next to it can keep you warm but if someone picks up a coal and swallows it, it will cause immense harm. The risk comes with internalised radioactive particles, not so much with externalised radiation such as on a jet flight, which is the nuclear industry’s misleading way of saying this radiation is safe.

  3. Cancer Town
    ‘Almost every household has someone that has died from cancer’
    A small town, a chemical plant and the residents’ desperate fight for clear air . Please read this to see how powerful industry lobbying is and which populations are targetted.Remember Flint.

    THE AIR POLLLUTION PLUME WILL MARK THE INVISIBLE RADIOACTIVITY….It is the fact that there has been so much secrecy and deception around it since the Sellafield startup that should worry everyone more. What is worse is that the Trumpian US nuclear industry has lobbied hard for the EPA over there to RAISE (!) levels considered a minimum safety net before. There is a long international history of poisoning……the Nevada tests, the Russian tests, Three Misle Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima meltdowns also a littering of accidents.
    One US Airforce Officer put a whole let of forbidden depleted uranium ammunition magazines into a local incinerator….clearly not his area of expertise.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that what will start being burned in Beddington will be made as unclear as possible, as well as its start date.\

    If you have twitter you may find the profile page, at the link,with my recent modern researches, of interest. Particularly the deliberate proactive NATIO and Italian government sabotages of dangerous truths.

    • Jim Duffy says:

      Alpha-emitter, it’s a good analogy. With the Viridor incinerator we’re already subject to a variety of toxins which could trigger health effects ranging from asthma to cancer. Adding radioactive waste to the already toxic cocktail can only produce more harm to those of us living nearby, in the Wandle Valley and beyond. So instead of being Cancer Alley as in Louisiana, we’ll become Cancer Valley! Perhaps we should twin with this town in America?
      But we won’t be the first place to suffer health effects from radiation. Burnham-on-Sea, four miles downwind from Hinkley Point nuclear power station was found to have double the expected breast cancer rate by Prof Chris Busby. Previously Dr Cameron Bowie of the NHS found a 50 percent excess of childhood cancers near the power station.
      Germany is shutting down all its nuclear power stations following a study that also found a 50 percent increase in childhood cancers. It’s a big step but there was a sustained public outcry following the KiKK report which forced their government’s hand.
      Have a browse through the Low Level Radiation Campaign website for further insights:

  4. britasjo says:

    Is it possible for Inside Croydon to sound out the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton for their views on the risks? I imagine like most of us they are appalled at this dereliction of duty of care by Sutton Council, aided and abetted by Croydon and Kingston councils.

    • Jim Duffy says:

      Britasjo, it’s a good question. A problem is that all current radiation risks are based on the Hiroshima studies following the atom bomb explosion in Japan. People were grouped depending on whether they were contaminated or not and comparisons were made depending on the received dose by each group. However this method is becoming discredited as members of the ‘clean’ group were also actually contaminated, meaning they were not effectively a control group. This means that all radiation, especially at low levels is more dangerous than those US scientists told us.
      For decades people living near Sellafield were told the nuclear reprocessing plant was not the cause of high levels of childhood leukaemia, ‘because the dose was too low’. (An alternative theory of ‘a cancer-causing virus caused by population-mixing’ was given to lamenting parents). Well it was the Hiroshima study that gave rise to that mistaken impression.
      The Marsden would have to concur with the government dictum of what a safe dose it. And Public Health Officers will probably not wish to put their head above the parapet, against huge vested interests.

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