In the early morning of 7th November, residents in Nijmegen thought that the end of the world was nigh. The Gelderland biomass power station in the city had exploded. And people feared for both the seven people working at the plant and for the toxic fall out that may follow. Tweets from the day paint a horrific picture…
"Sounds like the end is near here in Nijmegen"
"Explosion at the Nijmegen power plant at 7:10am and since then an enormous continuous roar…"
"Mayor of Nijmegen advising people to stay inside, keep doors and windows closed…"
And this from the BBC correspondent in The Hague…"Dust on ground in Nijmegen has come from potentially toxic materials inside – residents being advised safe to go out but don't touch dust…"
Fortunately no-one was injured in the explosion but it's hardly a comforting thought that Peel Holdings is intent on building a biomass energy plant in Barton, a puff of wind away from Salford and too near to residents in Trafford.
Salford Council has opposed the plant on health grounds, while Trafford Council has refused Peel planning permission as a "threat to residents" (see here). Meanwhile, Dr Mary Booth, a leading expert on air emissions from biomass power plants, has slammed the incinerator "as one of the most dangerous I have seen in terms of potential impacts to human health" (see here)
All this hasn't stopped the Environment Agency handing Peel an Environment Permit. And neither has it stopped Peel Holdings trying to press ahead with its plans.
Peel has appealed Trafford Council's decision to refuse planning permission and tomorrow, Tuesday 13th November, a Public Inquiry begins at Old Trafford and anyone can attend to voice opposition.
"There have been over 75 fires or explosions in biomass plants since 2008, including a massive fire at Tilbury Power station last February" says Pete Kilvert, Chairman of the Breathe Clean Air Group which has consistently opposed Peels' plans. He adds that a Nijmegen type explosion could well happen in Barton…
"The residents of Trafford and nearby Salford are naturally concerned about fall-out from such a conflagration should it occur at the Barton Renewable Energy Plant in Davyhulme" he says "This plant intends to burn waste wood which is preserved with heavy metals such as arsenic, so a fire in its wood storage facility could have devastating consequences.
"The Environment Agency, which was set up to protect the air we breathe has failed us" he adds "but it has been revealed that the Environment Agency has never turned down an application to build an incinerator. The consequences of death and disease in the community may not be revealed for 5 to 10 years."
The Public Inquiry begins November 13th at 10am at The International Suite, West Stand at Manchester United's Old Trafford.
There is also an evening session on Thursday 22nd November but people should register to speak, either by attending the first day or by phoning Leanne Palmer on 0303 444 5471.
For further details see www.BreatheCleanAirGroup.co.uk.
For the whole Salford Star background on Peels' incinerator plans click here and follow the links at the end of the article.
Photo from Dutch broadcaster NOS