Image credit: Friends of the Earth UK
Waste-to-energy incineration plants are often a controversial topic. While fancy incinerator-turned-ski-hill projects are a hit in the design-minded blogosphere, others worry about both air quality concerns and the notion that incineration can distract us from better uses for waste like recycling or, gasp, not generating the stuff in the first place. One former coal mining community is up in arms over a planned mega-incinerator. As they pick up their fight, they show that it has often been the residents in resource-rich areas that have suffered the worst side effects of the fossil fuel economy—and provide a powerful reminder that the coming green industrial revolution can and must bring these economically marginalized communities along for the ride.
From birth defects surrounding mountaintop removal coal mines, to the subsequent attempts to pass these same issues off on in-breeding, we've had some prime examples of community betrayal at the hands of the coal industry here in the States. But the phenomenon appears to be global.
In Merthyr, in Wales, the residents have watched as traditional coal mining and manufacturing jobs have left the area—leaving little behind but Europe's largest open cast coal mine and a gigantic landfill. Now, say campaigners, this situation is likely to get even worse as a planned mega-incinerator—supposedly the largest in the UK, and classified as a power station due to its size—is being pushed through the planning process in an attempt to promote "green" energy.
Friends of the Earth UK is pushing hard to get government to remove waste incineration from its plans for clean energy , arguing that it is both carbon intensive, and creates a demand for waste that is at odds with efforts to promote recycling and waste minimization.