Memorandum by M V Horner (HSE 19)
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (Section
3, para 1) has the requirements to protect neighbouring residents
from the dangers imposed by workplaces. HSE has made use of that
clause in the recent case of the British Museum and the air conditioning
system, and the possibility of passing residents being exposed
to legionnaires disease. That case proved that it was not necessary
for harm to be experienced, only that such harm was possible.
This was an excellent illustration of what the HSE can achieve.
However, as the situation in Clitheroe proves,
HSE does not apply the law uniformly. I suggest that the Select
Committee ensures that the Health and Safety Executive is freed
from the shackles apparently imposed by the British Government,
and that it be allowed to enforce the 1974 Act to protect the
population, and ultimately save money by reducing the health costs
on the NHS. The cost to the NHS is at present not evaluated against
the profits to industry. It appears that Government policy, such
as the desire to turn cement kilns into profitable toxic wast
disposal sites, requires that HSE neglects its duty, both as a
Statutory Consultee stage, and later at the enforcement stage.
The beneficiaries of this neglect are the cement
companies themselves plus the industrial processors who continue
to produce toxic chemical waste and avoid the expense of cleaning
up their process etc. From recent experience it also appears likely
that certain politicians can also benefit financially. I was shocked
when I read that the Marchioness pleasure cruiser was sunk by
a bargh owned by Ready Mix Concrete, and that Ready Mix Concrete
sponsored the Conservative Party at the time, and had close links
with the Prime Minister and her husband. I could not help but
ponder whether close policital ties are the cause of our continuing
plight. Ready Mix Concrete was suggested as a possible buyer of
Scancem, owners of Castle Cement. There is still speculation that
German owned Heidelberger Zement, who bought Scancem, will split
up their acquisition, and sell off the UK part Castle Cementto
Ready Mix Concrete.
Only months before Scancem was sold, it bought
CMR, the Sussex based Secondary Liquid Fuel (SLF) supplier, which
is already supplying Castle Cement at Ketton, and formed its own
ready-made in-house SLF mixing and supply companySEAR.
What goes into the mix of chemical wastes for Castle Cement is
now no longer in the hands of an independent supplier. German
wastes can now be delivered directly from Germany by road tanker
straight to Clitheroe. The Variation given to Castle Cement, if
unaltered from that at the proposed stage, on which HSE was consulted,
requires only that the Transfrontier Frontier shipment Notes are
checked, before unloading. Unbelievably, it is not necessary for
any toxic wastes imported directly to Castle Cement at Clitheroe
to be tested for PCB's or dioxins anywhere after arrival in this
country. In fact, it will be legal to import PCB's, and any mix
of the most toxic wastes from anywhere in the world direct to
Clitheroe. At Clitheroe only tests for sulphur, chlorine (and
iodine, bromine, fluorine), and heavy metals content and calorific
value are required by law. With this permission, it is unlikely
that a multinational company is going to relinquish its licence
without huge pressure. The same situation is not authorised anywhere
else in the whole of Europe, except at one kiln in Belgium, but
even that is said to meet the emission limits of the EC HW Incineration
Directive, which Castle Cement most certainly cannot in the existing
two kilns, nor indeed in the third kiln, kiln 7. Kiln 7, illogically,
was recently given permission to burn hazardous waste on a trial
The second Inquiry into the Impact of Cement
Manufacture, led to an assurance that no more kilns would be authorised
to trial burn hazardous wastes/SLF until the new SLF protocol
was finalised. Again the Environment Agency has made an exception
in the case of Clitheroe. The new SLF protocol was released shortly
AFTER the EA's decision to allow the trial in kiln 7 to go ahead.
The new SLF protocol requires that a kiln must:
be able to operate within its existing
authorisation BEFORE it is given permission to trial. Again Clitheroe
residents are cheated. These conditions are not able to be met
at Clitheroe. Independent monitoring carried out on behalf of
the Environment Agency in October 1998, showed that kiln 7 emitted
heavy metals far in excess of its limits, even when burning only
coal. The chromium level on its own was one and a half times over
the combined limit for all the heavy metals. The combined emissions
were over twice the metals limit. An application to increase metal
inputs should have been refused outright. The EA received this
monitoring report in February 1999, long before the end of the
extended deadline for objections. However, the EA held on to these
results until after the public consultation was closed..WHY?
have adequate dispersion. Castle
Cement appealed against the very emission limits it said the scrubber
would achieve from April 1998. This appeal was going on during
the whole time that the application to burn waste etc was being
consideredunknown to most residents . . . and possibly
HSE? Strangely the site inspector has written that poor dispersion
has not been a problem since 1994, when the chimney was highered!!!
How does the HSE view this claim in view of
the NPL scientists suffering health effects in 1995, and all the
evidence previously reviewed by the Environment Select Committee?
What was the purpose of the scrubber, when the EA has caved in
to Castle Cement's appeal, allowing any number of periods of up
to 4 hours in a day, without the scrubber, without any need for
notification to the EA?
Who decided that Castle Cement should not be
prosecuted, and that the breaches be kept secret? The independent
October 1998 Report showed that all three kilns were in serious
breach of their emission limits. While kiln 7 the subject of the
application to burn SLF, etc was in serious breach of its heavy
metal limits on coal alone, particulate and sulphur dioxide emissions
were exceeded on the two kilns already burning "SLF".
Why did the EA not throw out this application
for kiln 7 in its entirety at this stage, instead of keeping this
monitoring secret? Was the HSE in on the secret? Why did HSE not
prosecute Castle Cement on each account, and stop toxic waste
incineration immediately in kilns 5 and 6?
Why did HSE not stop kiln 6 from operating at
all, when it failed to meet its sulphur dioxide limit at any time
in the 39 hours that monitoring took place? The UK Air Quality
Strategy admits that sulphur dioxide can cause health effects
"in minutes, if not seconds."
Why does the EA hold authority over the HSE,
relying only on "persistent haze and odour". Hundreds
of complaints have been made by residents. When indpendent evidence
was provided in the October 1998 monitoring, why was HSE not allowed
to prosecute under the Health and Safety At Work Act Section 3
(1), as they did in the British Museum case? Compare kiln 6 emissions
of sulphur dioxide to those in the Haz Waste Incineration Directive.
The HWID limits are based to protect human health. Castle Cement
cause a breach of our Human Rights under Article 8 of the EC Human
Rights Convention, as well as a clear breach of the Health and
Safety at Work Act.
Who has put the handcuffs and blindfold on HSE,
and taped up its mouth in the North West?
Is it directed from the top?
Or is it local corruption?
IS HSE EFFICIENT?
I enclose a copy of a letter
which I sent to Mr Davies, Head of the HSC in 1997. Nothing has
improved since thenin fact things are far worse. HSE has
failed to learn from the wealth of scientific evidence from America
and elsewhere about the predictable health effects from fine particulates
and heavy metals when hazardous wastes are burnt. Or as seems
more likely, HSE has been instructed to keep quiet. My family
live on an isolated hill farm 200 feet above the top of the stacks
at Castle Cement. The fumes have caused all sorts of health problemsso
much that our GP advised us to move out of our home when the wind
comes from the cement works. Three independent consultants have
advised us to avoid exposure to the fumes from Castle Cement.
Castle Cement's own Response to Condition 8.1 in April 1996 identified
the worst polluted place was exposed to over four times the safe
health limitand it is exactly the site of our farm!at
the top of the hill, with our house just over the summit, 200
feet above the top of the stacks. We now commute daily between
our farm and a second home, depending on the wind direction each
day, and each night.
How can the HSE be doing its job???
1 Ev. not printed. Available for Inspection at
the House of Lords Record Office. Back