Food Safety: Incinerator Ash Spread on Allotments in Northern England

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A Video on the Byker (Newcastle) Toxic Ash Concern from the 1990’s

This is a PowerPoint presentation on the contamination of allotments, in Newcastle upon Tyne, in Northern England.

The dioxin and heavy metal contamination was caused by the deposition of toxic ash, from the city's Byker incinerator, in the 1990's. The incinerator was closed in circa 2000.

The Main Conclusion to be Learnt from the Video

In a Newcastle University report it was stated that the council should "consider establishing a register of allotment gardeners in Newcastle to enable health investigations if they should be required at a later stage". The authors' understanding is that this inventory of allotment gardeners’ health has not been established. Therefore, the health implications, of the ash being deposited on the allotments are unclear. Such health research could take decades to complete and even then could be inconclusive. This point was not discussed in an article on a BBC website.

Atmospheric deposition from the Byker incinerator

A PhD thesis examined the effect of the incineration on the wider environment. "The key findings of this thesis were that the Byker incinerator did not appreciably contribute to levels of dioxin or heavy metal contamination in urban Tyneside, other than within the plant boundaries" (page 203). The incinerator could have led to atmospheric deposition on the surrounding area but this was limited.

Sources for this Presentation

(1) Independent Newspaper Article on the Allotment ash;

(2) Newcastle University Reports from 2000 and 2001;

(3) Greenpeace Press Release;

(4) Daily Telegraph 05 Jan 2002;

(5) Residents Waste not Want Not Message, The Newcastle Journal, 21/10/99;

(6) Problems from the Start, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14/12/2000;

(7) The Tory Record: An Assessment - The Commission for Assessing the Conservative Record, 1997

Other References (not used in the video)

There is a transcript from BBC 2 Newsnight on the 'Byker ash' affair.

Note: Fly ash is obtained from particulates when there is waste incineration (the burning of rubbish); bottom ash is the residue from a waste to energy plant (an incinerator).

Background Video on Byker Incinerator from the early 2000's