Residents overwhelmingly against Eastern Creek Incinerator

A protest against the proposed Eastern Creek waste incinerator last year.

The Independent Planning Commission of NSW hosted a meeting on May 14 at Rooty Hill RSL to give residents (and politicians) a chance to express their views on the proposed Energy from Waste Facility at Eastern Creek.

Of the 28 politicians and residents who made submissions at the meeting, 27 were strongly against building the incinerator. The one submission supporting the incinerator was by a representative of the incinerator’s owner Next Generation NSW, who gave a very professional presentation on the desirability of building the incinerator.

Blacktown Mayor Steven Bali, federal MP for McMahon Chris Bowen, state MP for Prospect Hugh McDermott and Liberal MP for Mulgoa Tanya Davies all spoke against the incinerator.

No Incinerator for Western Sydney’s Kim Wright spoke movingly against the incinerator. “Energy from waste technology is not new; it’s been operating in many countries for a long time,” she said. “Waste incineration is the controlled burning of waste where heat is recovered to produce steam that in turn produces power through steam turbines.

“Incinerators produce acid gases, toxic metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and chromium. As a result of the burning process they also produce dioxins and furans. None of these toxic elements can be destroyed. At best they can only be captured in filters at extreme cost, and even then not with complete success.

“In their proposal to build the Sydney incinerator, the company even said: ‘The proposed facility may release substances to atmosphere which have the potential to harm human health.’

“Incinerators produce ash and slag which is the residual material left at the end of the incineration process. The ash, slag and filters become hazardous waste themselves and have to go into special secure landfill so as not to come into contact with animals and humans. However, the toxic elements can leech out into nearby land, contaminating it and any nearby water source.

“The waste to energy industry promotes itself by saying that incinerators eliminate waste going into landfill and as a result stop gases like methane being released into the atmosphere. It is interesting that they are not forthcoming about the incinerator’s production of toxic ash that requires it to be disposed of in land put aside specifically for hazardous waste.

“Waste incinerators produce particulate matter, which is very small solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere that can travel long distances from the original source of the pollution. Particulates carry the toxic metals, dioxins and furans already mentioned. These elements are so toxic they endanger human health.

“Particulates cannot be seen by the human eye and are so small they can be inhaled into the lungs. From the lungs they then pass into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. They are capable of crossing the placenta, the blood brain barrier and accumulate in the organs causing irritation, illness or even death.

“Long term exposure causes decreased lung function, the development of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in previously healthy people; cancers, especially lung cancer; mental health disturbances; Alzheimer’s disease; premature and underweight babies.

“As a better alternative to waste incineration, we need to move to a zero waste economy by removing all unnecessary packaging, reusing, recycling, composting and saying to industry ‘If we cannot reuse, recycle or compost it, you shouldn’t be making it’.”