The Beddington Lane incinerator, which Inside Croydon revealed this week was mixing clinical waste with domestic refuse in a tipping hall which was overflowing with bin bags, has been accused of breaking further rules intended to protect the environment and the public’s health.
The incinerator, built at a cost of £205million, is operated by Viridor, who receive £40million a year from the South London Waste Partnership to burn the rubbish generated by the boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston.
The photographs published by Inside Croydon this week from inside the tipping hall clearly show bright yellow clinical waste sacks mixed with the domestic rubbish.
According to a source close to the Beddington incinerator, the plant burns at 850-degree celsius, which is below what is required for disposing of clinical waste. An incineration plant at Slough which handles clinical waste operated at 1,100 degrees.
Waste management companies can make hugely increased profits from taking and disposing of clinical waste: as much as £6,500 per tonne.
The most recent monthly emissions data for Beddington, covering September, shows that the incinerator suffered a number of “mechanical issues” last month.
Today, specialist publication ENDS Waste and Bioenergy quoted a Viridor spokesperson trying to explain away the overflowing rubbish in the hall: “To ensure this consistent supply of material is available to the plant throughout the week and at the weekend, when there are very few deliveries to the [plant], it is usual for the non-recyclable waste to be stacked up in the bunker and tipping hall chutes.
“There is no manual handling of waste within the tipping hall. It is either directly discharged into the bunker or transferred into the bunker using a loading shovel. All waste in the tipping hall and bunker is processed at the facility, allowing the plant to operate at maximum efficiency and leaving it ready for the next round of household waste deliveries.
“This practice is in line with Beddington’s environmental permit. This requires compliance with the requirements of all necessary standards protecting health and the environment.”
Local environmental campaigners remain unconvinced, and have lodged formal complaints about the state of the plant with the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.
Viridor’s spokesperson has tried to claim that the clinical waste bags had been received “from care homes and children’s nurseries”, according to ENDS.
“This material is classed as ‘offensive waste’ and includes nappies and sanitary products,” ENDS reports.
“This waste comes to Beddington in yellow bags and is also covered in Viridor’s environmental permit.
“It excludes waste associated with medical procedures which is sent to other appropriately licensed facilities,” the ENDS report states.
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