A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 March 1992


Sales of dioxin-contaminated milk from three farms banned.
Source of dioxin-contamination is from a
hazardous waste incinerator operated by Coalite Chemicals.

The hazardous waste incinerator responsible for contaminating milk at nearby dairy farms is an “in-house” incinerator, for liquid waste only, operated by Coalite Chemicals in Bolsover, Derbyshire (north of Birmingham). The following is from ENDS Report 202, (England*), November 1991, pages 16-19: “The latest round in the dioxin saga began in June [1991], when a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) detected elevated levels of the substances in milk from two local herds. Sales of the milk were promptly banned. In October, MAFF reported that it had found the highest level of dioxins yet in milk from a third herd of suckling cows, while the National Rivers Authority (NRA) announced that it had found high concentrations of dioxins in the river Doe Lea about one kilometre downstream of Coalite’s discharge...The inefficiency of Coalite’s incinerator, it is now clear, has resulted in contamination of water as well as nearby land. Further results of analyses for dioxins and furans in the sediments of the Doe Lea were disclosed by the NRA at the end of November. They show beyond reasonable doubt that the Coalite discharge is the source of contamination. The results are summarized in the table below. The approximate location of the sampling points in relation to the Coalite discharge are in the left-hand column. The results are expressed in TEQs [toxic equivalents -toxicity expressed in terms of 2,3,7,8-TCDD]...The results of further analyses for dioxins in the discharge from Coalite’s effluent treatment plant are still awaited. However, the NRA is confident from sampling within the works that the main dioxin sources are the discharges from the incinerator’s quench tower and acid gas scrubber...”

COALITE’S DIOXIN HISTORY. “Coalite is no stranger to controversies about dioxins. In 1968, a runaway reaction in an autoclave in which trichlorophenol was being produced culminated in an explosion, killing a duty chemist. Within a few months, 79 workers had contracted chloracne, the classic symptom of dioxin poisoning. A clean-up was then carried out, including the removal and off-site burial of contaminated equipment and rubble. The production of trichlorophenol resumed in 1969 and continued until 1976, when the now notorious trichlorophenol reactor at Seveso in Italy overheated and emitted its contents into the surrounding environment. Coalite initially wanted to continue with its operation, but closed it down after its employees refused to resume work on the plant. Farce and skullduggery featured prominently in subsequent events. Coalite refused repeatedly to disclose the whereabouts of the wastes from the 1968 incident, but eventually its Managing Director met a council leader and pointed out the spot on a map. The location has never been disclosed more widely. In the aftermath of the Seveso incident, the Health and Safety Executive told Coalite to carry out medical tests on its work-force. When these were completed the firm chose not to publish the results or to hand them over in full to the HSE. A second study was conducted privately by a chemical pathologist, but her records - and nothing else - were stolen from her home in 1979. It was only the resulting publicity which persuaded Coalite to pass the results of the first tests to the HSE. A major fire at the Bolsover site followed in 1986, and the company has recently acknowledged that this may have caused dioixn contamination in the locality...” (* The ENDS Report is published monthly by Environmental Data Services, Ltd., Finsbury Business Center, 40 Bowling Green Lane, London ECIR ONE, England. Tel: 278-7624.)

According to The Guardian (London) of November 8, 1991: “...Attention has been focused on the Bolsover plant because produce from the farms is no longer considered safe to be sold. There are fears that farmland in other areas may be dangerous to use...Samples taken by the National Rivers Authority below the Coalite works on the Doe Lee show levels of dioxins 1,000 times above the background levels. Samples taken from four other sites were at background levels...” For more information on hazardous waste incinerators in England Waste Not recommends an excellent report published in October 1991 by The Women’s Environmental Network, Aberdeen Studios, 22 Highbury Grove, London N5 2EA, England. Tel: 354-8823. Fax: 354-0464. The report is titled Chlorine, Pollution and the Parents of Tomorrow, by Ann Link. Cost of the report, which includes air mail postage: Individuals and non-profits: $U.S.35. For-profits: $U.S.170.

New York City’s Comptroller releases major report:
“Burn, Baby, Burn:
How to Dispose of Garbage by Polluting
Land, Sea and Air at Enormous Cost”

Available free from: N.Y. City Comptroller’s Office,
Office of Policy Management, 1 Centre St., Rm. 517, NY, NY l0007. Tel: 212-669-3747.

Elizabeth Holtzman is the Comptroller of New York City. In January 1992 she released this exceptionally important and well referenced report that concludes that incineration of municipal solid waste is environmentally hazardous and is far more expensive than projected by the city. Comptroller Holtzman has delivered the most damaging blow, to date, at the City’s Department of Sanitation (DOS) plans to burn up to 10,000 tons per day of municipal solid waste. If the DOS gets what it wants, New York City will be the incinerator capital of the world. With the N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hell-bent to build incinerators throughout the state, regardless of the adverse impacts on health, environment or economics, N.Y. City will be the battleground royale for citizens battling their State. Perhaps this report might encourage the state’s Department of Health (DOH) to react to the health dangers that the Comptroller’s report uncovers. We hope that this will happen because the DOH has been an active partner to the DEC’s aggressive efforts to insure that the incinerator industry gets whatever it wants in the ‘Empire State’. The first phase of the city’s incineration plans -

A 3,000 tpd WHEELABRATOR incinerator proposed for the Brooklyn Navy Yard,
which is located in a largely minority area.

Designer & Builder: Rust International Grate Manufacturer: Von Roll

Boiler Manufacturer: Babcock & Wilcox Ash Disposal: Undecided

As Comptroller of N.Y. City, Elizabeth Holtzman has independently clarified the environmental and economic impacts of incineration. The report concludes with: “What is wrong with any waste program that relies heavily on incineration can be summed up very simply: it is environmentally hazardous and bad for the health of New York residents; it will not save nearly as much scarce landfill space as DOS (Department of Sanitation) thinks -- nor would it save much more than a program based on 50% recycling would save; and,it will cost much more than DOS has projected -- perhaps more than safer alternatives, both in budgetary terms and otherwise. The environmental risks of urban incineration cannot be overstressed. The City routinely violates federal air quality standards for ozone, carbon monoxide and inhalable particulates. Millions of people are affected daily. Incinerating solid waste on a larger scale would make it harder for the City to meet those federal requirements -- some of which may be made stronger in the near future. Most significantly, adverse public health effects can be expected even if incineration does not worsen City violations of Clean Air Act standards, since those standards do not reflect all health risks associated with incineration by-products. Comptroller’s Office recommendations are based on the premise that New York City’s solid waste management program must be both environmentally sound and fiscally prudent. The Department of Sanitation planning effort is leading to a program that it neither, and must be redirected. Reliance on garbage incineration for waste management in New York City would be a serious mistake, and better alternatives exist.” This 134 page report is an excellent source of information for all communities fighting incinerators.

WASTE NOT # 187 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US45; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.