Campaigner brings second FOI request against Slough over Colnbrook incinerator as infant mortality figures remain poor

A retired civil engineer who has been campaigning for greater awareness of the impact of incinerators on populations living nearby has brought a second Freedom of Information Request against Slough Borough Council.


Mr Michael Ryan, from Shropshire, has refused to accept that Slough Borough Council does not know when an incinerator first started operating in Colnbrook.  He made a second FOI request on Monday after an earlier request was answered in vague terms and the Council said it simply did not know.

Prior to Grundon’s super-incinerator opening in 2010 a much smaller scale clinical waste incinerator was operating from the site.  Slough says it believes there was a “destructor” on the site before that and that “something” was on the site since the 1970s.  The Council referred Mr Ryan to the Environment Agency, which was only formed in 1996.

Protesters against the Grundon super-incinerator, the largest in the country, campaign against the company’s plans to burn radioactive materials along with alpha-emitting waste, which has been linked to cancer.  The Environment Agency granted approval in 2007 and the issue was escalated to the now-disbanded Health Protection Agency.

Mr Ryan has made 53 FOI requests relating to incinerators over the last two years and has used freely available data to show causal links to infant mortality rates for populations living downwind of incinerators.

As Mr Ryan noted on Wednesday in a post on Colnbrook Views infant mortality rates in Slough had been steadily improving in Slough since the early eighties. In 2010 there was a sharp deterioration and the rates for 2012 were shocking.

infant mortality slough 1985-2013

New infant mortality rates published this morning show that Slough’s rates are still far above those nationally.

Following the release of raw data on Wednesday which suggested fewer infant deaths in 2013 than compared to 2012 it is now clear that while there has been a slight improvement Slough’s infant mortality problem remains.  Figures for Slough remain stubbornly higher than the average for the South East.

2010 2011 2012 2013
(per 1,000 live births/stillbirths)  South East Slough BC South East Slough BC South East Slough South East Slough BC
Infant mortality rate
3.6 3.0 3.5 6.4 3.4 7.0 3.4 5.8
Neonatal mortality rate 2.5 2.3  2.4 3.9 2.3 4.1 2.4 3.1 
Perinatal mortality rate
6.6 7.6  6.8 7.8  6.3 8.1 6.1 6.5

Two weeks ago the ONS announced that, at 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, infant mortality in England and Wales was the lowest ever recorded, comparing favourably to 4.0 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012 and 10.1 in 1983.

We will keep you updated with this story as it unfolds.

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