Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Doctors Report

This Doctors Report does not look helpful to kiln operators:

10. Cement Kilns

Although this report is primarily about incinerators it is useful to compare incinerators with cement kilns. Both produce toxic emissions of a similar type and much of the report is relevant to both. Cement kilns convert ground limestone, shale or clay into cement. They require large quantities of fuel to produce the high temperatures needed and this lends itself to the use of non-traditional fuels such as tyres, refuse-derived fuel and industrial and hazardous wastes variously called Cemfuel, secondary liquid fuel (SLF) and recycled liquid fuel (RLF).

However, pollution and planning controls are significantly weaker than those for hazardous waste incinerators. Cement kilns produce a number of toxic emissions including mercury, manganese, barium, lead, sulphuric acid, styrenes, dioxins and 1,3 butadiene. Thermal treatment of hazardous waste is always a highly dangerous activity and the very best available technology needs to be used.

Cement kilns are effectively being used to burn hazardous waste on the cheap. Sadly hazardous waste typically finds its way to the least regulated and cheapest disposal methods, in practise those that create the most health risks and the most environmental damage. Cement kiln technology has remained virtually unchanged since the turn of the twentieth century. They can only be refitted or retrofitted to a minimal degree to improve efficiency and toxic waste destruction.

The limit set for the weight of particulates emitted by incinerators is 10mg/m3. However cement kilns are allowed to emit up to 50mg/m3. This would be excessive by itself but the volumes of emissions from cement kilns can be up to five times greater than incinerators.

Therefore some cement kilns can produce emissions of particulates and other toxic substances which are in excess of 20 times that of incinerators. Worse still they have poorer abatement equipment and usually lack the activated charcoal needed to reduce emissions of metals and dioxins.

They are therefore capable of extremely serious health consequences. Incredibly some of these cement kilns have been sited in the middle of towns where they would be expected to have a major effect on the health of the local population.

The fact that they are allowed at all is astonishing, for the maximum impact will inevitably be on the most vulnerable members of society, and in particular the unborn child.

The report looks like a helpful contribution to the debate.

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