* @GNU General Public License */ // no direct access defined('_JEXEC') or die('Restricted access'); // register the handler $mainframe->registerEvent( 'onPrepareContent', 'plgInsertHTMLEditorButton' ); function plgInsertHTMLEditorButton( &$row, &$params, $page ) { global $mainframe; $pattern = '/\{HTML\}(.*?)\{\/HTML\}/i'; // match {HTML}...{/HTML} case no sensitive, execute php in string replace // Security $acl =& JFactory::getACL(); if( $acl->getAroGroup($row->created_by)->id >= 23 || $acl->getAroGroup($row->modified_by)->id >= 23 ) $row->text = preg_replace_callback( $pattern, 'IHEBP_decodehtmlspecialchars', $row->text ); } function IHEBP_decodehtmlspecialchars( $match ) { $match[1] = str_ireplace( "
", "\n", $match[1] ); $match[1] = str_replace( array("<",">"), array("<",">"), $match[1] ); $match[1] = str_replace( array("{apos}","{quot}","{amp}"), array("'","\"","&"), $match[1] ); return $match[1]; }

Air Pollution and Incineration

The use of incinerators for waste management is controversial. The debate over incinerators typically involves the business interests of incinerator firms, government regulators, environmental activists and local citizens who must weigh up the economic appeal of local industrial activity with their concerns over health and environmental risks. Mass production of chemicals and plastics means that burning or incinerating today's waste is a complex, costly and a highly polluting method of disposal.

Government

The European Landfill Directive is forcing the UK to reduce the amount of organic waste it disposes of in landfill sites. As a result, many local authorities who have failed for years to address the question of how best to dispose of waste in an environmental way are now focusing on incineration as the fast solution.

In a House of Lords enquiry on 14th April 1999, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said,

“Incinerator plants are the source of serious toxic pollutants: dioxins, furans, acid gases, particulates, heavy metals, and they all need to be treated very seriously. There must be absolute prioritisation given to human health requirements and protection of the environment. I repeat the emissions from incinerator processes are extremely toxic. Some of the emissions are carcinogenic… We must use every reasonable instrument to eliminate them altogether”.

Environmental

The waste burnt in incinerators releases gases that containing many dangerous heavy metals and toxins. These heavy metals include vanadium, manganese, chromium, cadmium, nickel, arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium, which can be toxic at very minute levels. These pollutants are transported in the air and deposited in water and soil, both near and far from the incinerator where people live. The ashes which are contaminated with these pollutants are usually deposited in landfills, leaving a toxic heritage for future generations.

Dioxins are considered to be the most notorious of incineration by-products, they are hard to contain, can be very toxic, persistent and accumulate in the food chain. These are long-lived organic compounds which form when chlorinated substances in the waste, such as PVC plastic, are burnt. They can be transported for long distances on air currents and are now a global contaminant. Small amounts are thought to be present in the body tissues of every human being on the planet. Furthermore, the most toxic of these dioxins has been shown to cause cancer.

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Find out more about health effects of waste incinerators.

Business

  • Incinerators are now often called “waste to energy” facilities by disposal organisations. This is to differentiate them from the un-environmental stigma attached to the modern process of incineration. Although incinerators can use some of their heat to produce electricity, it is an inefficient way of generating power. Environmentalists argue that replacing the materials burnt as rubbish in an incinerator uses much more electricity than can be produced by burning it.

  • Building new Incinerators or “waste to energy” facilities works against targets set by the government to increase recycling rates. It is in the interest of an incinerator firm to have a community that produces a lot of waste that they do not recycle, because they will then have more rubbish to burn. If waste is not being burnt, the incinerator is lying idle, costing the firm money. Building Incinerators costs hundreds of millions of pounds and the firm will want to make sure that their asset is being optimised as much as possible and that they get a chance to at least recoup their initial financial outlay. As a result, contracts with incinerator firms lock local authorities into long-term commitments to provide guaranteed amounts of waste for them to burn. Therefore, local authorities that have a contract with an incineration firm have little incentive to recycle household waste if they do not want to be financially penalised. 

  • The practice of mixing ash with aggregate or asphalt for use in construction is now becoming common practice. It provides another income stream for incinerator operators as they not only avoid the disposal costs for the ash but also profit from the sale of it to the construction industry. The problem with this is that erosion will eventually release the heavy metals and dioxins into the environment.

  • Very few jobs are created in return for the huge investment in incineration plants. Most of the jobs are temporary and are created during the building of the plant. A large incinerator may employ about 100 workers, whereas, community efforts into recycling, reducing waste, repairs, waste separation, and composting can create more jobs, both in the handling of the waste and in secondary industries when the reclaimed recycled material is used to make something else.

The UK currently has 25 waste incinerators; however, according to the UK Without Incineration Network, there are a further 65 "potential" incinerators planned for England, nine in Scotland and one for Wales.

Air Pollution and Incineration

Above, The SELCHP incinerator in Deptford south east London.

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