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Climate Change Levy -fuel for thought

LETTERS

Living close by Castle Cement's Ribblesdale Plant, we are qualified to respond to Dick Boarder's comments in the Concrete Futures supplement (NCE 7 October). The cement industry may be worried about the '[Climate Change] Levy', but the other side to the argument - health - is being deliberately sidelined.

Castle was first to trial cemfuel in 1992, after which the Pollution Inspectorate produced guidelines for 'alternative fuels' in cement kilns.

A basic tenet of these guidelines was that trials of alternative fuels should not be considered if there was plume-grounding, as here.

Two House of Commons' select committees strongly recommended a health survey. This survey was rapidly squashed by COMEAP (Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution), a body which includes several firms which might welcome a cheap means of disposal of their 'unwanteds'.

In February, environment minister Michael Meacher carpeted Environment Agency and borough council chiefs resulting in summonses for four alleged breaches of a condition requiring 'no offensive haze or odour outside the site boundary'. Yet no prosecutions had been brought for breaches in April 1998, which drew 149 complaints.

The agency has now given Castle permission to trial another mix of cemfuel in kiln 7. Approval was heavily dependent on an air monitor on the Chatburn School playing fields, located such that it regularly shows zero when Chatburn village is stunk out; and on a scrubber on the kiln 7 stack which will neither stop plume-grounding nor filter out the heavy metals.

Yet COMEP used these factors and a 1994 health survey as reasons for rejecting the select committee's health survey demand, as did the Agency when approving the kiln 7 trials.

J D Mortimer (M), ME King (M), 'Brogden Farm', Worston, Clitheroe

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