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Viridor hits backs at EfW legionnaires claims

Waste management firm Viridor has hit back over claims by anti-incineration activists that its planned Cardiff Bay energy-from-waste (EfW) facility could cause legionnaires disease.

The claims come as members of the Cardiff Against the Incinerator group gathered on the steps of the Welsh Assembly building on October 12 to ask the Government to call in the permit decision, and stop the plans to build the £203m plant at Trident Park in Cardiff Bay.

The group quoted research carried out by the University of Northampton, which found bacteria known to cause legionnaires disease in samples from an incinerator, and claimed that the same thing could happen with the Viridor plant planned for Cardiff.

However, Viridor external affairs manager Dan Cooke branded the claims “distasteful and without foundation”.

In a statement Cooke said: “Firstly, it appears that the study being referred to is concerned with composting operations and has no relevance whatsoever to EfW facilities such as that being proposed for Trident Park. That would be a blatant mis-use of academic research without scientific basis, by parties operating without accountability.  Attempting to scare and deliberately mislead the public using a purported ‘risk’ of legionnaires in this way is distasteful and without foundation.

“Many properly conducted studies have been undertaken specifically concerning EfW and other waste management facilities, most recently by the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) earlier this year and this found no significant risk of health impacts associated with modern EfW plants.

“The only possible risk regarding legionnaires and EfW facilities could be where wet cooling towers are used. In facilities where this is the case, the risk is strictly controlled through effective maintenance and controls.  However, many EfW facilities, including the proposed Cardiff plant, use air-cooled condensers instead, thus removing the risk entirely.

“Viridor would like to stress once more that its proposed EfW facility uses tried and tested technology, subject to stringent monitoring and quality controls.  There are more than 400 such plants operating safely in urban areas and other environments across Europe, and more than 20 in the UK.”

Cooke added that Viridor has fully engaged with the community on the proposals and that it is confident that its plans remain the right solution for the site.

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