In a quite unbelievable story, it appears that the Danes are planning a new incinerator for Copenhagen which incorporates a ski slope on the outside of the building. In a recent story in the Guardian the architect Bjarke Ingels winning design is set to replace the current out of town incinerator with a new state of the art facility which will allow visitors to ski down the outside.
Denmark is often hailed by the pro incinerator lobby as being a great example of how modern facilities, sited in urban centres, can blend in with the environment and provide a cheap source of energy with no risk of harm to human health. The other side of the coin says that not only are they conducting the greatest long term experiment of the age into the effects of living in the shadow of an incinerator with the local population as guinea pigs, they are also now at the point where they are burning refuse that should have been recycled.
Of course the answer will lie in the future where one side or the other will be vindicated, but in the meantime it seems that the designers of this new plant have forgotten why the chimney stacks are build so high in the first place. The height of the chimney dictates the area over which the particulate matter it emits will disperse, and the reason for this is that no matter how you dress it up the output of the chimney will be toxic. So if you already know that this output is toxic in concentration, and that the plant will periodically emit higher than permitted concentrations of dioxins, furans and other toxic materials, how clever is it that you should be allowing people to stand up right near the top of the chimney and breathe this stuff in? From this distance it appears to be nothing short of sheer lunacy but you can’t legislate for this type of behaviour.
In the meantime we need to make sure that whenever we take the fight to Covanta in Middlewich and Tata/Brunner Mond in Northwich we need to consistently remind them that incinerators are not safe. And by continually pressing the point as to why the chimneys need to be as high as they are planned to be we can expose the fact that if they are any smaller then poisonous particulates could easily concentrate on the ground below. So whilst we can’t stop the Danes behaving madly, we can prevent that madness spreading to Cheshire.