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Gloucestershire incinerator: How it's done in Denmark - VIDEO

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 26, 2012

  • Incinerator stack

  • Reporter Mike Wilkinson at Reno Nord

  • Rubbish arrives

  • Flames

  • Giant claw

  • Controlling the giant claw

  • Burning

  • Reno Nord incinerator

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PLANS for a £500million incinerator in Gloucestershire have proven controversial. Reporter Mike Wilkinson went to see a similar facility in Aalborg, Denmark.

THE people of Gloucestershire need to wake up and smell the Danish bacon because the Reno Nord incinerator in Aalborg is an inspiration.

I arrived in a cold Aalborg, in the north of Denmark, with an open mind.

You can't fail to be impressed by the technology and the process at this incinerator which is similar in size and specification to our county's plans.

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Vehicles drop off the waste and a giant claw (like 'the claw' from Toy Story, only bigger) picks up five tonnes at a time.

VIDEO: Giant claw picks up waste:

Clever doors keep the air coming in rather than going out, so there's no smell, and the floors are so clean you could almost eat your dinner off them.

The waste is sent into the furnace, where blue flames gobble it up at a staggering 1,100C.

The flue gases that form are then cleaned by three scrubbers, and the water that is produced is pumped into the river - that's how clean it is.

More than 30,000 tonnes of waste slag is cleaned and used to build Denmark's roads.

The burning process gives 36,000 Danes electricity and 25,000 of them heating in their homes.

VIDEO: Incinerator burning waste:

But is it safe, I hear you ask.

"We do think very differently here in Denmark. We see this as a good thing and nobody cares about it," says world-leading waste expert Bettina Kamuk, who showed me around.

And it seems that any potentially dangerous particles aren't actually produced as a result of incineration, but are already in the waste itself, and whether you burn it or send it to landfill, it is still going to be there.

A control room, like something from a sci-fi movie, monitors the output levels and the operation can be stopped if it goes over the legal limits.

Leaving the plant, I asked my taxi driver what he thought.

VIDEO: Rubbish dumped at Reno Nord

"Everyone in Denmark thinks this is a good thing. We have to do something with the waste and we might as well get power and heating from it, " he said.

And that was the biggest thing I took away from this visit. Denmark's people think differently. They see waste as a solution rather than a dirty problem.

That's probably why they are steaming ahead with 68 per cent recycling, while we lag behind on 48 per cent in Gloucestershire (and even that is good for Britain).

Back home, lorries are chugging along to expensive landfill sites and energy firms are ripping us off while we freeze to death.

In Denmark, people are sitting at home, warm and with the lights on, while their waste burns.

It's food for thought for those undecided about having a plant here.

CLAIRE CARD OF GLOSVAIN REACTION:

“I’m horrified. In fact it worse than I expected,” said anti-incinerator campaigner Claire Card as she wandered around the waste-to-energy plant in Denmark.

She joined reporter Mike Wilkinson on the tour, witnessing the process of incineration from start to finish.

The Haresfield mum still fears for the health impacts on her children and says that noisy vehicles trundling in and out of the site will be a nightmare.

She said: “I just wish more people in Gloucestershire could see this.

“I’m not saying that we should dump our rubbish in landfill. I’m saying there is another way. There are more than two options.

“We see things very differently in England. We are not used to incinerators and it is not in our culture.”

Her views are shared by fellow campaigners from Glosvain, who have spent weeks holding public meetings trying to convince others that the incinerator is bad news for Gloucestershire.

A decision on the incinerator plans is to be made on January 17 by Gloucestershire County Council.

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  • Cllr_Ian  |  December 02 2012, 10:57PM

    Thanks Christian, for getting the truth out about what's happening in Denmark and your analysis of our situation. As you say incineration is outdated, expensive and will really impact on the health of people to the south of Gloucester. We could save 200 million by picking up on the tried and tested UK Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) operating in Avonmouth, Bristol. It has all the waste sorting for recycling, followed by Anaerobic Digestion, it even have pasteurisation for the compost produced after 35 days. The Bristol plant will be generating electricity next month using a very clean gasification process and none of the very dangerous toxins from mass incineration. Burning waste is not the way forward, DEFRA have stated in the waste hierarchy that it is 'last' resort. Many might think the waste is consumed at high temperature, this is not correct, burning just kicks out the waste in an 80m chimney polluting the whole area with dangerous toxins, hundreds of chemicals, dioxins and heavy metals. Just search for the health effects of Incineration, the medical evidence is out there and the Health Protection Agency is saying give us more time to complete our work. The Inspector Brian Cook has slammed the Gloucestershire Waste Strategy and rewrote a major part to steer them away from incineration and toward anaerobic digestion. Cllr Ian Bickerton 01242 250473

  • christianpoll  |  November 29 2012, 3:04PM

    Dear Gloucestershire People, A represent the large NGO i Denmark, that has been fighting incineration of waste over some years now, and intensely for the last year. When incineration was introduced in Denmark some 40 years ago, it was a big step forward. There are many reasons for that, but what is crucial is, that times are different now - and maybe the most important one aspect is the resource prices. Over the last 100 years, the prices have been going down, but over the last 10 years, prices have been going up again almost explosively. A number of resources are becoming sc**** and the majority of resources are to be found in China. Therefore, Europe has a window of opportunity now to become leading in urban mining. We have a lot of resources hidden in dumps and in all the products, we own. If these products are incinerated, resources are lost. But on top of this, waste incineration generates air pollution and ****. We have seen reports of a number of exceedings on a general basis of air emission limits. Do authorities then close down the facility? No, because 400 trucks of garbage arrive every day at a facility, so you cannot shut it down. **** is produced in an amount of 20% - thus, 1000 kgs of waste is turned into 200 kgs of ****, which is a greyish collection of metals and other stuff, that cannot burn. It is a useless substance, except for substitution of gravel for building of highways. Finally, it is important to realise, that an investment of several hundreds of millions of Pounds in a facility for incineration of waste will create a lock-in to this technology. After this step, it is very unlikely, that money will be invested into recycling technology, geothermal heat or solar power, because the money has been invested, and all waste is then directed into incineration. Good luck Christian Poll Danish Society for Nature Conservation Denmark

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  • Ysedra  |  November 27 2012, 1:32PM

    And Claire Card, you can comment here if you like (currently ad-free!): http://tinyurl.com/ceyezw2

    |   -2
  • Ysedra  |  November 27 2012, 1:30PM

    We know TiG can edit its articles (without notifying readers online that it has done so). Isn't it time to correct the evident errors about Claire Card (and perhaps, as a bonus, tell us who paid for the trip/s?)

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  • akeeper  |  November 27 2012, 12:48PM

    A reply from Claire Card who cannot get comments logged into the debate Just to clear up a few of the misleading comments from this article, as I visited the Reno Nord incinerator: • The 'control room' was just a few computer screens with one man vaguely watching them - certainly not stuff of a 'sci-fi movie' • The dioxin levels are monitored quarterly - so there could be a problem for 3 months before it is discovered and there was some confusion about this • I would question the recycling figures quoted and the high level of recyclables' (cardboard, bottles, plastics) in the piles of rubbish to be burnt would suggest that these figures may be incorrect. • There weren't many people employed at the site, certainly 10. • The toxic fly-ash is transported and buried in the German salt mines • Waste is being imported from the UK to keep the burners burning. • Little consideration is given to the financial or environmental cost or safety considerations of these practices. • The floor wasn't especially clean and there was rubbish blowing around outside. • The people of Denmark pay for their electricity/heating - this article seems to imply it is free for them - it's not • This incinerator is in the middle of an industrial estate so the mere 200 Lorries per day have little impact on the estate - the Lorries delivering waste to the Javelin park incinerator will have a major impact on the rural, local roads around Haresfield. • Everyone in Denmark does not think it is a good thing - there is a significant and growing level of opposition to incinerators in Denmark - fact. • Indeed the Reno Nord incinerator is not so much of an 'inspiration' more of a lesson in how not to deal with our waste - as many Danish residents are now realising. • I am not a GlosVain member; my costs were not paid for by UBB or GCC. I am a Gloucestershire taxpayer who lives, works and is trying to raise a young family in the County with serious concerns about the environmental, health and financial impact of the proposed incinerator at Javelin Park.

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  • akeeper  |  November 26 2012, 8:01PM

    Bonkim/Ysedra: You can view the councils flood risk assesment on their planning application.It hasn't fully understood the inherent risk of flooding from the area.It's not an issue of putting these into place there is a water table issue in the area before the build up of hardcore etc the site used to flood across the whole area onto the natural plain ie the fields beyond it and into the M5 drainage.The site floods at regular intervals and the ditch system put in around it cant cope and floods the local property.The water table cant cope with this development.For the record I am in favour of recycling but not incineration and not at this site.The County Council applied for a compulsary purchase of Javelin Park before starting the incineration process but it was rejected by the then secretary of state yet low and behold the PFI credits were removed and we cannot fully care for the elderly in Gloucestershire but can build this white elephant.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 26 2012, 7:18PM

    akeeper - many locations built up over the years are under water, even those that are not on the flood plain. Whilst a planning issue, also one for the owners/operators to consider as it will cost money, the location already has buildings - the garden centre, they will have to design foundations, plant lay-down areas, sumps, etc, etc, and build up to the required levels to avoid/build in containment, to meet the flooding problem if any - all such sites look awful until construction is complete. If there are inherent flood risks - the EA will advise/stop any development unless mitigation measures are put in place.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 26 2012, 7:10PM

    darrellglos - You have hit the nail on the head - did I say cart before the horse. In an integrated waste strategy you would look at collection and treatment process simultaneoulsy and optimise the best match for cost, and environmental footprint. Yes if the waste to energy is at the back end, best to have a materials recovery facility at the location, collect everything in a single bin or bag, unload on the conveyor belt, sort what is marketable (changes from time to time), and feed the rest to the furnace. One would have thought the average housewife would have thought of that. Now the complex multi-bin collection systems that the worthies in your council have decided upon costs some three times the single bin collection, and the returns from recycling sales is peanuts, and they have forgotten that the recycling targets put in place by the previous Labour Government has been swept away by the coalition - which has asked councils to put a weekly no-frills collection system. Gloc CC and its district councils must be living in a time warp to continue with a strategy dreamt up in 2005 when recycling targets were all the rage, only it has taken them so long to arrive at where they are - not quite recognised they are free to put in what is commercially/environmentally best fit to suit their needs.

  • darrellglos  |  November 26 2012, 6:45PM

    When we finally get this incerarator will we need to seperate our rubbish like we do at the moment. Or will we still have to keep putting it in seperate bins?

  • Ysedra  |  November 26 2012, 6:20PM

    If anyone can prove that UBB and the county council failed to take the prospect of flooding into consideration, I'll happily oppose this scheme 100%. I suppose a negative can't be proven, though. Tell you what, if UBB and the council prove they did take flooding into consideration, will the antis give up (at least making unsubstatiated claims)?

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