Taro 9 yn ymchwilio i gynlluniau dadleuol i adeiladu llosgydd gwastraff ger Merthyr Tudful. Mae'r rhaglen yn teithio i'r Unol Daleithiau i ddarganfod mwy am y cwmni y tu �l i'r cynlluniau.
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Good evening and welcome to Taro Naw.
# We don't want incineration... #
Downing Street, a fortnight ago.
Protesters present a petition opposing plans...
..to build a waste incinerator near Merthyr Tydfil.
It's awful to think they want to put the thing in our area.
The money going into this won't be spent in the town.
US company Covanta Energy are the developers.
Tonight, Taro Naw travels to the US...
..and hears the company has been fined...
..for breaking environmental rules.
How can people trust you when you say, "There isn't a problem...
"..this is clean, this is fine," when you violate rules?
First of all, failure is not acceptable to us.
When you put the bins out to be collected...
..do you ever wonder what happens to the rubbish?
One way to get rid of it is to incinerate it...
..but not everyone welcomes that.
In Merthyr Tydfil right now, there is a battle...
..to try and stop the building of an incinerator.
Owain Clarke has travelled to the Valleys and the US to investigate.
Welcome to Merthyr Tydfil, an area with a rich industrial heritage.
In the 29th century, this was the world's iron capital.
And after iron, came coal, as the industry grew and then shrank.
But while the industrial excitement of the past has long gone...
..plans to create a new industry here has caused plenty of commotion.
There's an application for a waste incinerator to be built...
..which will create electricity at a site four miles from here...
..in the centre of town.
If the application is passed...
..it will be among the biggest in Britain.
But there's been a prickly response from some locals to the plans.
The aim is to develop this 30-acre site in Brig y Cwm....
..halfway between Merthyr and Rhymney.
Alan Williams is among those fiercely opposed to the scheme.
The site, the building, is bigger than the Millennium Stadium.
The chimney is over 100m. It's 130 or 115m high.
It will be seen virtually across south Wales. It's far too big.
If they need this, they should put them across Wales...
..so the rubbish can be dealt with in their area.
But it's not just the size of the development that bothers him.
If you look around here, you can't see many houses...
..but thousands of people live within a mile and a half.
The question of how to deal with rubbish is timely.
Traditionally, the contents of the bin went to landfill sites...
..but they are filling up and councils can be fined...
..if they send too much waste to landfill.
But the Welsh Government's waste policy recommends incineration...
..to create electricity if waste cannot be recycled.
This is being considered at Brig y Cwm.
The aim would be to incinerate around 750,000 tonnes every year.
The waste would otherwise have been buried at landfill sites.
The incineration would of course produce electricity...
..enough to supply the needs of Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly...
..according to the company.
But while the electricity could supply other areas...
..the opposition spreads further afield, to Blaenau Gwent.
Meryl Darkins has lived in Tredegar for twenty years.
She suffers from a lung condition and takes ten tablets each morning.
She's worried about what could be emitted by the chimneys.
Traditionally and historically, the area has been industrial.
Now we've got unemployment, but at least we have clean air to breathe.
But once this happens...
..there will be more pollution in the air every day.
The levels at energy waste sites are monitored carefully.
Dioxins are one of the chemical groups that are emitted.
If the levels are high enough, they can cause diseases such as cancer.
But low levels are emitted from incinerators...
..like the one being considered for the valley.
According to the Health Protection Agency...
..modern incinerators don't have a measurable impact on health.
But that doesn't calm the fears of Meryl Darkins.
Every time I have a cold, I take ages to recover.
I never recover fully.
Whenever there are dioxins or something like that...
..they have the same effect on my lungs.
I will be more ill than I was before.
If you want to see what is being proposed...
..you have to travel some way.
More than 3,000 miles to be exact, to New Jersey in the USA.
Covanta is based in the industrial cauldron of this state.
The company wants to build the incinerator on the open cast site.
Across America, Covanta operates more than 40 incinerators.
That includes this one in Rahway.
Inside the building, they deal with tons of rubbish.
In this large hall, Paul Gilman explains the preparation process.
He says they do their best to separate what can be recycled.
Next, the incineration process.
Covanta says the temperature and air is carefully regulated.
First of all you check the air and create enough turbulence...
..that it's a good burn, a thorough burn.
A minimum amount of smoke and that sort of thing.
Then you have your air pollution control equipment...
..to take care of what does come out.
This is the control room.
This is where they regulate the electricity being produced...
..and the chemicals being released.
The company says the technology is one of the cleanest ways...
..of producing electricity, cleaner than coal and oil production.
The company insists there is no longer any cause for concern...
..over dioxin emissions.
The amounts going out are much less than they have been in the past.
Dioxin emissions would be about what ten families might create...
..if they burned their trash in the backyard.
What about those who are familiar with the incinerators?
Phillip Davies worked up the road of this incinerator for decades.
He believes the people of New Jersey generally welcome them...
..because of waste problems.
These large tips looked like the coal tips we had in South Wales.
This is a way of getting rid of waste by incinerating it.
As a scientist, Phillip doesn't worry much about what is released.
If I had to live close to the incinerator...
..of course I would think twice about the place.
But generally, as far as the toxic residues are concerned...
..it wouldn't be a problem for me.
But they are a problem for others.
Professor Paul Connett is a worldwide expert on waste.
He campaigns against incineration sites which create energy.
He says the USA are a step ahead of Britain.
No new development has been passed here for almost 15 years.
He says this is a good thing considering the dangers...
..he argues are connected to the microscopic nano-particles...
..which are released without restrictions.
Give me a break!
Where's the science here? Where's the responsibility here?
Where's the solution to nano-particles?
It's almost as if, if you don't look, you don't find...
..and without regulation, nothing could be happening.
But what we know, and I'm sure it's true in Merthyr...
..the more solid particles that you have in the air...
..the higher the respiratory problems, the death rate...
..the higher the sickness rate.
That's with particles which are much larger than nano-particles.
If that's the existing situation, introducing nano-particles...
..is going to make the health situation worse.
Professor Connett also argues...
..that the economic argument for incinerators is over-exaggerated.
You'll find that this town of Merthyr Tydfil...
..will be importing waste from miles around.
You'll be perceived as the dump city in Wales.
That's the last thing you want.
In the face of the recession...
..many in Merthyr are thinking of the economy.
Geraint Meaker runs a building business with is father.
The politicians don't care what happens in Merthyr.
They should come up to see the current state of the town.
There's no money here, being spent in the town.
Why should they make it even worse?
Unemployment in Merthyr is among the highest in Wales.
Covanta claim the incinerator could be a valuable investment.
They've estimated that building work would create around 600 jobs...
..and around 80 people would work at the incinerator.
Some have their doubts.
The people who'll receive the money won't live here.
The people who'll work there will come from England.
They say that jobs will be created, but who'll get them?
According to Geraint's father, Phil Meaker...
..the standard of work is also important.
The people of Merthyr deserve something better.
We've lost jobs in the coal mines.
Factories such as Hoover have closed down. There's nothing now.
They need to attract money into the town, so young people can get jobs.
Taro 9's investigation will continue after the break.
We'll visit a town...
..where a part of Covanta's site was temporarily closed...
..following the release of double the amount of permitted dioxins.
The city of Newark in New Jersey.
Covanta Energy's headquarters is in this state.
The company wants to develop...
..one of Britain's biggest waste disposal plants near Merthyr Tydfil.
Here, you get a good view of the incinerator.
That's the New Jersey Turnpike going behind it.
If you ever drive...
Ana Baptista was raised locally in Ironbound.
This is the location of Covanta's biggest incinerator in the state.
As part of her work for the Ironbound Community Corporation...
..she campaigns against the site.
She holds weekly tours around the local industrial areas.
She says the area is an easy target for dirty developments.
Because our community doesn't have the same wealth and resources...
..as many other communities...
..we are less able to fight off the undesirable uses...
..and attract the kinds of development we'd like to see.
We're vulnerable, in political and economic terms...
..to undesirable uses...
..that other communities can protect themselves against.
The group was so concerned...
..about the substances being released from the incinerator...
..they prosecuted Covanta in 2007.
After two years of failed discussions, the case went to court.
The group claimed Covanta broke environmental regulations...
..between 2002 and 2008, under the Clean Air Act.
William Schulte was their legal representative.
There would be at least a few hundred...
..of the six-minute intervals...
..where they would be emitting a substance...
..in excess of what they're allowed to emit.
How serious they were, it sorts of runs the gamut.
Some exceed by only 2% or 3%, others you're running up to 15%.
Those are the more serious violations.
The two sides came to agreement last year...
..without Covanta accepting any responsibility.
They did agree to install new equipment to control gas...
..and to pay over 800,000 for a new park in Ironbound.
Covanta claims the rules were broken when anther company ran the site...
..and things have changed since they took over in 2005.
We'd already set about improving the performance of that facility...
..and happily, the performance has been improving over time.
I think even the Ironbound Corporation would say...
..it's a different operation today compared to five or six years ago.
If the people of Newark feel they're being targeted by dirty industries...
..and that sentiment is echoed in Merthyr.
One of Europe's largest opencast coal mines...
..and landfill site, Trecatti, are a stone's throw away from the town.
Builder Phil Meaker and his son, Geraint...
..believe the town is an easy target for Covanta.
This doesn't happen in areas such as Oxford or Hampstead Heath.
They think they can do this...
..due to the high unemployment figures in the Valleys.
It's like a carrot on a stick.
They think we'll accept anything, if there are a few jobs.
Covanta Energy's UK Managing Director disagrees.
He argues the Merthyr site was chosen above tens of other sites...
..as it has a railway nearby, amongst other reasons.
We have to have ready access to power export.
We don't like to be immediately adjacent to houses.
We're about 1.5 kilometres away from the nearest dwelling...
..and, principally, the rail links.
Back in the US, Covanta's problems stretch beyond New Jersey.
I'm heading to Connecticut and after a two-hour journey along the coast...
..I arrive at Wallingford.
In July 2010, an emissions test showed...
..that the level of dioxins released from a nearby incinerator...
..was over 250% higher than the permitted level.
Covanta decided to close part of the site for a year to investigate.
I met one concerned local resident.
If there was no harm being posed to the general population...
..why was one third of the plant shut for a year?
If it wasn't harmful, why didn't the plant just continue running?
One of Bob Gross's weekly duties is maintain the Jewish cemetery...
..a stone's throw from the site.
He's concerned about the effect on people's health.
If you're emitting chemicals such as dioxins, cadmium, lead, mercury...
..into the atmosphere...
..and people are ingesting these chemicals in small amounts...
..you have to assume that somebody is getting ill from this.
Last year's incident is no exception.
Three years earlier in 2007...
..there was another case related to chemicals released into the air...
..above this town.
The dioxin levels were too high in that case too.
As a result, the Office of the Attorney General...
..and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection...
..brought a court order against the site.
The magnitude of the violation, the dioxins that were emitted...
..were two and a half times that of the 2007 incident.
Also the frequency came into play.
Two violations within three years caused us more concern.
Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection says...
..that even though public health wasn't threatened...
..the case was considered serious.
The two sides reached agreement in July...
..and the company had to pay a 400,000 fine...
..and increase the frequency of emission testing on the site.
Covanta blamed old technology.
How can people trust what you say when you violate rules?
First of all, failure is not acceptable to us.
We are our own biggest critics, as far as we're concerned.
We set about making sure that we corrected the problem.
We in fact were the ones in both cases...
..that discovered the problem, reported the problem...
..and set about fixing the problem.
The first people we called after we called the regulatory agency...
..was the local town officials and the newspapers...
..to let them know what had happened.
Many things became apparent as I travelled America.
According to official records, Covanta's paid thousands in fines.
The company insists the majority of problems have been inherited...
..and don't derive from the incinerators they've built.
According to the company, they abide by the rules 99.9% of the time.
Whilst referring to Covanta's site in Rahway...
..where rules have also been broken...
..Paul Gilman raises questions about the US system...
..of monitoring emissions over very short periods of time.
If this facility had been located in the EU...
..those violations would not have even constituted violations.
So the way plants are regulated in the EU is different.
I'm not saying it's worse.
I'd argue it's very scientifically sound, but it is different.
Are you blaming the regulatory regime in the US for being too picky?
I wouldn't say it's more strict, it's different.
They're more focused on very short-term violations...
..whereas the EU is interested...
..in the longer-term health of the facility.
Covanta agreed to provide details and plans of the site on their website.
The Environment Agency will also keep a close eye.
We would really expect to be within our compliance limits...
..100% of the time.
It's always possible over the life of a facility...
..that you could exceed for 30 minutes at some point.
Over a year, when we look at our emission over a year...
..we operate well below the levels of exeedance we're allowed.
According to Professor Paul Connett...
..a change in mindset is needed when it comes to treating waste.
We should not be spending a fortune destroying finite materials.
We should stop making materials...
..packaging and products, that have to be destroyed.
A fortnight ago, a petition signed by 13,000 people...
..was presented in Downing Street by those who oppose Brig y Cwm.
The decision of whether or not to approve the site...
..is currently in the hands of the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
Westminster MPs, however, could make the final decision.
The people of Merthyr and surrounding areas...
..are determined that it doesn't come.
We hope that the Prime Minister and Chris Huhne...
..listen to the people of Merthyr and Rhymney.
A final decision on Brig y Cwm is expected next year.
It's a £400 million investment in Merthyr...
..which will be one of the largest inward investments in Wales...
..for several years and it'll create jobs.
It's environmentally beneficial, as far as we're concerned.
It's the best way of dealing with our residual waste.
It's a great plus for Merthyr.
We're trying to help Merthyr reinvest in its future.
What's that? Moo.
Others aren't as hopeful about the area's future.
Geraint Meaker is concerned...
..about how the emissions will affect his children.
It makes me question...
..whether I want to stay in Merthyr for the rest of my life.
My business is here, but do I want my children to be raised here?
Many youngsters are already leaving the area.
It'll be like a ghost town because no-one will be living here.
That's it for tonight.
We're back at the same time next week.
Thanks for watching, goodnight.
S4C Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Taro Naw: o'r cymoedd i'r UDA - y dadlau am gynllun llosgydd MerthyrMae'r gyfres materion cyfoes BBC Cymru, Taro 9 yn ymchwilio i gynlluniau dadleuol i adeiladu llosgydd gwastraff ger Merthyr Tudful. Mae'r rhaglen yn teithio i'r Unol Daleithiau i ddarganfod mwy am y cwmni y tu �l i'r cynlluniau, a'n clywed eu bod wedi gorfod talu dirwyon o filoedd o bunnau am dorri rheolau amgylcheddol yno.Mae'r datblygwyr, Covanta Energy, eisiau adeiladu safle creu egni o wastraff, Brig y Cwm, ger tref Merthyr. Bob blwyddyn, bydd yn llosgi 750,000 tunnell o wastraff sy'n methu cael ei ailgylchu gan gynhyrchu digon o drydan i gyflenwi pob cartref ym mwrdeistrefi Merthyr Tudful a Chaerffili.Ymwelodd Taro Naw � thref Wallingford, yn nhalaith Connecticut, Unol Daliaethau. N�l yng Ngorffennaf eleni daeth Swyddfa Twrnai Cyffredinol y dalaith i setliad llys gyda chwmni Covanta, ar �l i'r lefelau o ddiocsin o'u llosgydd yno, gael eu mesur dros ddwywaith y lefel y dylai fod. Bu'n rhaid i'r cwmni dalu $400,000 mewn dirwyon. Y digwyddiad oedd yr eildro i reolau allyriadau diocsin gael eu torri yn y safle.Caeodd y cwmni un o'r unedau ar y safle am flwyddyn er mwyn ymchwilio beth aeth o'i le. Mae'r cwmni yn mynnu eu bod yn cydymffurfio �'r rheolau 99.9% o'r amser ar hyd eu safleoedd ar draws y UD. Maent hefyd yn pwysleisio nad oedd yr allyriadau diocsin yn Wallingford yn agos at beryglu iechyd y cyhoedd.Ond mae ymgyrchwyr sydd yn erbyn y safle ym Merthyr yn pryderu am record amgylcheddol y cwmni. Mae Meryl Darkins yn byw yn Nhredegar, pum milltir i ffwrdd o'r safle posib. Mae'n dioddef yn barod o gyflwr ar ei hysgyfaint ac felly'n poeni am yr effaith allai unrhyw allyriannau gael ar ei hiechyd bregus."Bob tro rwy'n cael annwyd, fi'n cymeryd oesoedd i ddod drosto fe a dwi byth cystal � beth oeddwn i o'r blaen," meddai. "Ac felly pryd bynnag mae unrhyw diocsins neu rhywbeth fel 'ny ma' nhw yn cael yr un effaith ar fy ysgyfaint ac felly fe fyddai'n salach nag oeddwn i o'r blaen."Taro 9, Dydd Llun, Medi 19, BBC Cymru ar S4C, 9.30pm.