A letter from Dr. Stan R Blecher to Northumberland News

July 13, 2013

Dear Sirs,

I wish to compliment you and journalist Paul J. Rellinger on the excellent front page article entitled “Property sale incinerated” in the July 4 edition of The News.  The effect that the proposed “gasification plant” is having, and would continue to have, on property values and on the commercial prosperity of the town in general is of major concern.

At least as important are the potential effects on community health.  Several items in the same July 4 issue of The News, evidently provided by the company Entech-Rem, could be misleading to readers.  The community deserves to have the facts before them, in order for citizens to be able to critically scrutinize the Company’s pronouncements.

The Company is at great pains to create the impression that the plant they are proposing to build in our pristine farmland is not an incinerator, but a “gasification plant”.  As defined in English dictionaries as well as medical-science dictionaries, an incinerator is an apparatus that produces ash by burning; the plant Entech-Rem proposes to build would produce ash by burning; it is an incinerator.  The Company emphasises that garbage would be converted to “syngas” at a lower temperature than is used for incineration.  What it leaves un-emphasised is that the syngas would then get incinerated, at normal incineration temperature, and produce ash.  In the description of “Gasification” provided to The News (page 4, July 4) it is stated that the process “generates a synthetic gas” (syngas) “that consists mainly of water vapour”, which is then combusted.  But a gas that consist mainly of water vapour cannot be combusted.  The composition of syngas will vary, depending on the material fed in to the process (which is unknown in the case of the Entech-Rem proposal) but according to most sources syngas mainly comprises not water vapour, but a mixture of mostly highly poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide.

Ash produced by incineration of garbage, as in the Entech-Rem process, can contain highly poisonous and deadly molecules, such as furans and dioxins. These can cause genetic mutations that can lead to cancer as well as birth abnormalities.  Many other toxins are produced, and in addition the recently discovered nanoparticles, minute portions of ash much too small to be seen with the naked eye.  Nanoparticles, also known as ultrafine particles, can potentially penetrate into the human blood stream and enter internal organs such as the heart, the liver, the kidneys and even the brain.  Nanoparticles may themselves carry the poisons mentioned above into the internal organs, but they are dangerous whether or not they contain toxic molecules, as minute bits of ash can damage the brain or other organs of both children and adults.

Entech-Rem makes much of the fact that “..facility emissions will be compliant to Canadian and Ontario environmental regulations”.  What they omit to add is that since incinerator nanoparticles have only recently been identified by scientists, there are currently no regulations on release of nanoparticles into the environment.  When this was brought to the attention of a Company representative at their recent open house the response was that this is not the Company’s problem but rather one which citizens should address with the governments.  Thus the Company appears to be knowingly utilising this loophole; the statement about compliance is potentially misleading to the public.  Furthermore, a recent study specifically commissioned to examine “the potential for nanoparticle generation from the Entech process”  found that “the current technology available to industry does not have the capacity to effectively remove ultrafine or nanoparticle particulates”.  This report can be found at the following link: http://www.newenergycorp.com.au/assets/per-port-hedland/Appendix-18-Nanoparticle-Literature-Review-Synergetics-2012b.pdf.

Dr Stan R Blecher MD, FCCMG
Medical Geneticist
Professor Emeritus
Molecular Biology and Genetics, and
Director Emeritus
School of Human Biology
University of Guelph