Eamonn McCann - Questions raised about incinerator plans for Derry

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The Enagh Youth Forum issued a worrisome statement last week claiming that between 2008 and 2010, 575 people (roughly one in 188) died from cancer in Derry.

And between 2007 and 2009, according to the group, 2,212 (one in 50) Derry people were diagnosed with the illness.

“The statistics show that 108 people were diagnosed with cancer in the Enagh Ward between 2007 and 2009.

“Only in Culmore - directly across the River Foyle from the heavily industrialised Strathfoyle and Maydown area - was there a higher cancer rate, with 139 incidences.

“Twenty-nine people died in Culmore and 25 in Enagh during the 2008-2010 period.”

The EYF was calling for an inquiry into possible links between cancer rates and industrial pollution before final go-ahead is given to plans for an incineration/gasification plant in the area.

“If the proposed plant is as safe as its promoters claim, the EYF asks, why not put it in a more handy location closer to the city centre?

Indeed. If there’s no danger at all to people living nearby, why not a nicely landscaped incinerator at Fort George?

Friends of the Earth suggest that the type of incinerator which is planned will emit acid gases, dioxins and furans, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, particulates, cadmium, mercury, lead and hydrogen sulphide.

I confess I have only the vaguest of notion about some of these substances.

An inquiry, or at least the provision of more detailed information than has so far been made available, might calm the apprehensions of some of the families expected to live in the shadow of the planned new facility.