Pollution blamed on toxic waste incinerator

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A HAZARDOUS waste incinerator in South Wales is responsible for raised levels of PCBs and dioxins on surrounding land, an exhaustive government-sponsored study has concluded, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Until now Rechem, owner of the incinerator near Pontypool, Gwent, has insisted there was no proof that it was to blame for any contamination by toxic chemicals outside its plant. Those making the claim have faced threats of legal action.

The pounds 420,000 study found there was a contaminated area stretching 500 yards (457 metres) to the east and south of the Rechem site, covering homes, the corner of a housing estate, old people's accommodation, fields and a river.

Levels of PCBs and dioxins inside the zone are typical of industrial sites. Publishing the study David Hunt, Secretary of State for Wales, said: 'These (levels) are not considered to pose any significant risk either to the food chain or to public health. Overall, the conclusions of the report are reassuring.'

Local protesters disagreed. David Powell, a teacher, said the Keep Your Own Waste campaign would continue the fight to close the plant.

Rechem welcomed the report. 'We hope it will reassure local people that there is no widespread contamination,' it said. 'Nothing that has been found is exceptional.'