Dr Dick van Steenis

14 Responses

  1. Geri Brown says:

    This Dr Dick van Steenis seens to know what he is taking about, lets hope he can help us with the BREP and get it stopped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Lozza says:

    Dr Dick Van Steenis definitely knows his stuff!! He has done extensive research on these types of incinerators and the health effects

  3. Giles Bennett says:

    Could Dick van Steenis be any more wrong about the “study done in Korea” he mentions at the four-minute mark? He’s so wide of the mark that it leaves me wondering if he’s actually even read it!

    The report in question (search for it – it’s by Leem, Hong and others and is called “Health survey on workers and residents near the municipal waste and industrial waste incinerators in Korea”) actually concluded – and I quote directly – that “municipal solid waste incinerators now do not affect the level of [dioxins / furians] in workers at incinerators and residents near MSW incinerators”.

    The study looked at two different groups – (i) residents and workers near two municipal solid waste incinerators, and (ii) residents near one industrial waste incinerator.

    When Dick says “in 70% of those living downwind of the incinerator that they checked [the levels of dioxins] were running at about four times the level of those inside the plant, and all above the World Health Organisation’s safe limit”, what he’s not telling you is that those figures compare (a) residents near the industrial waste incinerator with (b) workers in a completely different (municipal solid waste) incinerator.

    For the residents and workers near the MSW incinerators, the average levels of dioxins and furians in the bloodstream was 12.2pg, and their daily intake levels were within the tolerable daily range. The WHO safe limit, incidentally, is anything in the range of 10 – 30pg, and the average amounts of people living in Europe is anything between 14 – 43pg.

    Yes, for the residents near the industrial waste incinerator, the picture isn’t particularly pretty, but what Dick also fails to point out is that the industrial waste incinerator in question was chosen specifically because it was suspected that there were high levels of dioxins being released from it. He also fails to mention, which the study in question does highlight, the fact that incinerators are not well regulated in Korea and that there is little to no control of emissions.

    Instead of taking the broad, sweeping claims of Dick van Steenis and others at face value, why not read the reports they mention? They’re not difficult to track down – the Korean report is at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12916748, and it’s only 5 and a half pages long. If nothing else, have a search for the numbers “53.4” and “12.2” and see if Dick’s numbers stack up for yourself.

  4. Michael Ryan says:

    Why did Giles Bennett get the hump at this e-mail of mine and perhaps he’d be kind enough to state what data he’d examine at electoral ward level to determine whether or not there was any harm to health from a biomass plant, or an incinerator, or an oil refinery, or a power station?

    From: michaelryan
    To: mcrane@selby.gov.uk
    CC: vsteenis
    Subject: Apparent concerns over incinerator emissions and proven association of same with elevated rates of infant deaths
    Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 11:08:05 +0000

    Dear Mr Crane,

    Parish Clerk Giles Bennett seems unaware of protocols regarding data disclosure which suggests that might not be the ideal person to deal with the issue he claims to be of concern.

    However, it’s possible that Mr Bennett isn’t the only person in North Yorkshire to be concerned about the effects of industrial PM2.5 emissions on rates of illness and premature deaths.

    When the US Clean Air Act was strengthened in 1997, there were major objections from industries who feared reduced profits doe to abatement of PM2.5s.

    Any legislation that affects the economy has to be scrutinised by the White House Office of Management & Budget and the Washington Post of 27 September 2003 carried a major article by Eric Pianin which you can access via links section at http://www.ukhr.org

    The US found that the nett savings ( ie after cost of retrofitting abatement) were up to 193 billion dollars (Billion, not Million) over the ten-year period 1992-2002 based on reduced hospital visits and fewer days off work.

    In rough terms, the UK could save ten pounds for every pound spent on abatement of industrial PM2.5s, ie six pounds in reduced NHS costs and four pounds on reduced DSS costs as people are fit for work.

    Most people ( & everyone in Yorkshire I suspect) would welcome a chance to get ten pounds back for every pound spent and I’m amazed that no UK paper reported the Washington Post article.

    Your council will almost certainly hold the ONS birth/mortality data at electoral ward level. If not, your local PCT will hold it.

    If your council is unaware of adverse health effects of industrial PM2.5s from incinerators or other sources, I suggest that you contact Dr van Steenis. It’ll be a lot easier than trying to hide the truth as occurred in Corby over the birth defects scandal. Dr van Steenis was a early medical adviser to Solicitor Des Collins on the Corby scandal.

    Dr van Steenis explained health hazards from PM2.5s from Broomfield Tip, Standish on 22 April 2004, both in live TV interview from opposite the tip (for 6pm news) and at Standish Labour Club same evening. Dr (now Professor) Virginia Murray held a very devious follow-up meeting in May 2004 which was “ticket-only”, one ticket per household and from which Dr van Steenis was excluded and yet his professional advice/opinion apparently derided. You’ll be able to check all this with Wigan MBC and/or Andy Williams of Wigan newspaper.

    Here’s a strange piece from Wigan article of 27 January 2010 as no UK council seems aware of the public health effects of incinerator emissions and yet here’s Wigan aware of effect of emissions from the burning tip and then dithered over taking action and then chose the wrong course of action (injection of liquid nitrogen would have stopped the burning in a much safer manner – as advised by two independent industrial chemists). Look also at the piece about Wigan council’s insurers.

    “From the very outset the council has been conscious of the public health effects at Broomfield Tip.”
    Wigan Observer: GBP2m tip blaze compo shock
    Wigan Observer (England) – Thursday, January 27, 2005
    Residents living near a controversial burning tip could receive up to GBP2m in compensation after winning a legal battle with the council.

    Metro chiefs have been told they have no option but to pay out to people living around the Broomfield tip in Standish .

    And they have been warned the eventual deal could cost the council up to GBP2m in liability – and the damages will not be covered by local authority insurance.

    Wigan Council confirmed that it has agreed to discuss the issue of compensation with residents affected by the underground fire at Broomfield tip .

    Councillors were told that they were liable after consulting legal expert Tim Horlock in September. His opinion was finally delivered to key councillors in secret last week.

    Mr Horlock QC told them that although it is unlikely that the Metro was responsible for the fire starting and they had acted professionally and competently to extinguish it, they remained vulnerable to being sued for negligence because of the six-month setback in starting work to dig out the inferno.

    Specifically, he cites the decision to put back the start of digging from May until October 2003 as a major factor in any claims.

    Although the Metro had been warned about the scale of the problem by their specialist mining consultants Wardell Armstrong, they first sought GBP500,000 grant guarantees from the North West Development Agency to help pay for the work before giving the go-ahead for work to begin.

    The barrister is now advising Wigan Metro to agree a “concession” to the claimants out of court – or face a potentially large bill for legal costs as well.

    Residents have complained about the possible damaging health effects of substances coming off the burning slag heap in the sulphurous smoke.

    They found their cars and houses covered in soot and many residents complained of head-aches, nausea, diarrhoea, coughs and sore throats.

    Those living nearest the tip have made numerous calls for a public inquiry into Wigan Metro and Wigan health services’ handling of the underground blaze, which started, it is believed, in June 2002, possibly by a camp fire. More than 300,000 cubic metres of ash, dust and earth were dug out of the site as the fire raged deeper and deeper underground and dumped to cool on neighbouring farmers’ fields before being returned and the mound re-contoured.

    Wigan Metro maintains that it was not responsible for the fire starting, but is prepared to concede that the effects would have been less serious if work to extinguish the fire had started earlier.

    As a result the Cabinet has authorised the authority’s legal advisers to open discussions over an appropriate settlement.

    This will be based on any loss and damage that residents can prove was the result of work not starting several months earlier than it actually did, in October 2003.

    A spokesman for the council said: “We believe we acted in good faith and on expert advice in trying to balance the interests of residents and the public purse.

    Measures “The view taken at the time was that we could not start permanent works without a guarantee of external grant funding, but that suitable measures were in place to ensure that the fire was contained while finalising the details of the grant.

    “However, we now accept that if work had started earlier the fire would not have spread to the extent that it did.

    “This was a unique situation for which there was little national precedent, and there is no serious disagreement over the fact that digging out the burning material was the best way to deal with the fire.

    “We have instructed our advisers to discuss with solicitors acting for the residents a method of assessing a settlement of those claims that are demonstrably the result of the delay in starting work.

    “At this stage, it is not possible to say how much this figure might come to.

    “From the very outset the council has been conscious of the public health effects at Broomfield Tip .

    “To do nothing and let the tip continue to burn in the long term would have created a significant risk, so the fire had to be tackled.

    “We took advice from health specialists locally and nationally and introduced some of the most extensive air quality monitoring undertaken anywhere, including air filters in individual properties to minimise the risk to residents.

    “We also worked with our health colleagues to identify those most at risk and provided them with alternative accommodation.”

    Kind regards,

    Michael Ryan”

  5. Geri Brown says:

    Giles we do not live in Korea, and Dr.Dick Van Steenis has stopped 20 of these plants before they come to fruition, the chemical toxins that would be belching out are highly dangerous.

  6. Michael Ryan says:

    Professor Roy Harrison is in the news today, telling Gloucestershire readers:

    “ANYONE living near a waste incinerator in Gloucestershire would have less than a one in a million chance of developing cancer as a result.”


    Anyone remember Professor Sir Roy Meadow? He was the bloke whose “expert” testimony helped jail Sally Clark & others accused of killing their babies.

    “The issue was at the centre of the now infamous cases of Sally Clark and Angela Cannings, who were jailed for killing their children after the child abuse expert Professor Sir Roy Meadow wrongly gave evidence that the chances of two cot deaths in the same family were 73 million to one. ” (“Doctors reopen controversy over cot deaths and murder” by Jeremy Laurance, The Independent, 20 July 2007)

    I wrote to Professor Roy Harrison in 2008 to alert him to the fact that ONS data showed high rates of infant deaths in electoral wards exposed to incinerator emissions. He didn’t seem too bothered and yet I thought he would have been as he’d warned in this Times article about emissions from power stations:

    Power station pollution ‘as harmful as cars’
    Times, The (London, England) – Wednesday, May 27, 1998
    Traffic may not be the main cause of dangerous emissions, says Nick Nuttall

    POWER stations are a bigger source of pollution linked to breathing difficulties than previously thought, government advisers will disclose today.

    Emissions of tiny particles from oil and coal-fired power stations can be as hazardous to public health as car emissions, they have found. The discovery comes during a review of the National Air Quality Strategy, which has so far been geared largely towards cleaning up car exhausts, and diesel engines in particular. The findings will be disclosed at a meeting in London organised by the National Society for Clean Air.

    Research indicates that particle pollution may account for up to 8,000 premature deaths annually and 10,000 additional hospital admissions from asthma and other respiratory conditions.

    Over the past five years diesel engines have increasingly been seen as the main source of this type of pollution. However power stations and “large combustion plants” burning heavy oil and coal are also producing chemicals such as sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen that form a significant source of particles.

    Professor Roy Harrison of the University of Birmingham and a member of the independent Atmospheric Particles Expert Group (Apeg) said power stations , not traffic, were often the main culprits for dangerous levels of air pollution. “We can now identify days when, in air pollution terms, traffic is the culprit and days when secondary particles (from power stations to refineries) are the culprit. We can also identify days when they both get out of hand,” Professor Harrison said. The Government’s clean air strategy aims to bring pollutants within strict limits by 2005. The limit for these sorts of particles is set at 50 microgrammes per cubic metre.

    Tim Brown, of the National Society for Clean Air, said: “Particles have been seen as essentially a local problem and a responsibility of local authorities. But the new research appears to show that particle pollution from power stations is also significant during particle pollution episodes.”

    He added: “This means that tackling the problem cannot just be a local issue but also a national one in which the Government needs to be more involved. This has important implications for the Government’s air quality strategy.”

    Professor Harrison said it was hoped that agreements, drafted in Europe to cut emissions of sulphur from power stations , would address pollution from these sources.

  7. Giles Bennett says:

    Mr. Ryan,

    I’m slightly intrigued as to how I can have “got the hump” at an email (a) which you failed to copy me in on when you sent it, and (b) whose existence I was unaware of until you posted it here.

    I find it interesting that this email was sent an hour after I had sent you an email in which I made it clear that my interest in the potential adverse effects of incinerators was a personal one, and one that was in no way linked to my position on our parish council.

    I also expressly asked you to limit your responses to myself in the future, although I invited you to copy in Dr. van Steenis. I have never received a response to that email, nor a response to the three reasons I put forward in answer to your earlier question of why I thought you should share the data on which your research is based.

    Since you’ve failed to respond to that email, and have never, as far as I am aware, subjected your research to independent peer-review, I took the liberty of examining some of it myself, and frankly it’s unsurprising that you don’t like other people looking too closely at it.

    I’ve a number of issues with your methodology, and the manner in which you present your results, but since you seem incapable of engaging in actual, sensible, dialogue, instead preferring to bombard message boards with long cut-and-pasted tracts from emails, newspapers and whatever else you come across, I can’t imagine you’re particularly interested in hearing them.


    No, we don’t live in Korea, which is probably good news for my dog.

    My point, however, was that you should look a little deeper into these things, rather than relying on the broad-sweeping claims that other people bandy around, and draw your own conclusions as to the accuracy of what they’re claiming. It’s not rocket science, at the end of the day.

  8. Michael Ryan says:

    Here’s extract pasted from the e-mail that Giles Bennett sent me in July 2010, several weeks prior to his assertion above.

    On 26 Jul 2010, at 11:09, Giles Bennett wrote:

    Mr. Ryan,

    Copying in my Parish Council colleagues was somewhat unnecessary, as I’d written to you from my personal email address, and not the one associated with my work on the Parish Council – whilst it is through my position on the Parish Council that I became aware of your research, that’s as far as it went – at no stage did I claim that I was acting on behalf of the Parish in this matter. I would ask you to restrict your responses to myself only in the future, although feel free to copy in Dr. van Steenis if you wish.

    At this stage I am looking into it in a personal capacity only, and not through anything to do with the Parish Council, so I am not prepared to recommend to anyone that they hire Mr. van Steenis to come and present his point of view. In any event, our annual budget as a parish is around £2,000.00, most of which goes on lamposts and dog-waste-bins, so we don’t have the financial resources you may imagine we do! I am, however, working my way through the various claims that Dr. van Steenis makes, and trying to relate them to his list of 360-odd references, although to be honest it is somewhat difficult to do so. When I have done so I will be in a position to draw my own conclusions in relation to the claims he makes of incinerators and their impact on health.

    In answer to your question, I would hope that you should be prepared to share the data for a number of reasons. Firstly, if, as you claim, your research establishes X, Y and Z in relation to a number of incinerators, then I would have thought that you’d have no hesitation in having that research examined by others to verify that what you claim is correct – as far as I can gather, your claims have not been subject to any independent scrutiny. Whilst I have no reason to doubt them, I tend to prefer to see things with my own eyes than rely on what I’m told by others.

    Secondly, if your aim is to try and reduce infant mortality, then surely disseminating the raw data as far and as wide as possible, so that people can see for themselves what you claim is going on, is the best way of doing this and to get others to back you up in your quest. Finally, from the reverse side of the fence, refusing to share the data just looks, well, a bit suspect.

    Is your position that you are not prepared to share the raw data?

    Kind regards,


  9. Michael Ryan says:

    Perhaps Giles Bennett will tell us what health parameters he’d examine at electoral ward level around a point source of potential air pollution to determine whether or not there had been any harm to health? Just a few suggestions will do Giles. No need to list the ten that Dr van Steenis & I have checked around Ironbridge power station, or the five that have been mapped out for London’s electoral wards.

    I’ve used Office for National Statistics birth/mortality data to study infant mortality rate variaitons at electoral ward level:



    To make even more sense of the above map of Shropshire & parts of Staffs, you need to look at an electoral ward map of the whole of Wales (around 890 wards) showing the massive variations in infant mortality rates. Giles Bennett can easily check the data himself once he’s obtained it for himself and I advise him to just look at the locations of the electoral wards where there are zero infant deaths recorded for as many successive years as he can as they’ll be the wards with the cleanest air. It’s as simple as that.

    In Saiginaw, Michigan, Dawn Shanafelt & others have been examining infant death rates at US census tract level and the high rates are downwind of 2 sources of toxic airborne pollution that aren’t shown on this map, but are roughly along a vertical line in middle of the map, one each side of Saginaw river. Note that winds in Saginaw are mainly westerly:


    Maybe Giles Bennett should contact Hilary Clinton to tell her she’s wrong to try & stop “Almost two million women and children die from inhaling stove smoke each year.” in Africa(“Tackling a burning issue”, Independent, 28 September 2010).

    If Mr Bennett looks at the peer-reviewed study by DE KONING, HENK W.: Air Pollution in Africa, (Biology Digest ,Volume 16 , Issue 8; World Health Volume 9, Issue 0043-8502. January/February 1990) he’ll learn that:

    “In Nigeria, mortality rates were lowest during the driest months, when cooking was done outdoors and infants were less exposed to fumes.
    Exposure of pregnant women to indoor smoke pollution is a risk factor that contributes to lower birth weight. Low birth weight in turn is associated with a range of perinatal problems and infant ill-health.”

    If Giles Bennett wants to praise my research into infant mortality rates being higher where incinerator emissions are high, he needs to first praise Tango & others who examined infant death rates around 63 incinerators in Japan (J Epidemiol. 2004 May;14(3):83-93.). He’ll find the Japanese study examined in the 150-page report prepared for SEPA by Health Protection Scotland about health effects of incinerators. The above report: “Incineration of Waste and Reported Human Health Effects” acknowledges proven adverse health outcomes, but assumes that modern incinerators will be better.


    I’m surprised that Health Protection Scotland didn’t mention Bonnybidge incinerator in the above report. Maybe they didn’t want people to learn about Owen Lloyd, who was told not to publish his research about Bonnybridge & other polluting sources, and whose academic career in Scotland ended when he dared to publish his research.

    “Blazing row over incinerators
    Scotland on Sunday 31 January 1999
    IT MAY be linked with cancers, birth abnormalities and respiratory problems, but the government is to mount a high-profile campaign to persuade the public to love the waste incinerator .

    At least seven incineration plants are currently being built, extended or planned in Scotland – to the horror of those for whom the memory of the Rechem incinerator in Bonnybridge , blamed for the congenital deformities of at least three children, is still fresh. A decline in landfill spaces combined with next month’s hike in landfill taxes has helped to make incineration the cheapest and easiest way for councils to dispose of their ever-growing mountains of waste.

    Sepa, the government environmental protection agency in Scotland, has hinted that many more plants could spring up once campaigns to sway public opinion have hit home. …continues

  10. Giles Bennett says:

    Mr. Ryan,

    You seem somewhat confused on a number of fronts.

    1. That’s not an extract, that’s the entire email. An extract would be a part of it.

    2. As I said in my earlier post, you sent your email to Michael Crane an hour after I’d sent you the email you’ve just pasted – note that my email to you was sent at 11:09:42 GMT+01:00, and your subsequent email was sent to Michael Crane at 11:08:05 +0000, so just under an hour later.

    Thank you for confirming your on-going inability to engage in actual, sensible, dialogue, and your continuing preference to instead bombard message boards with long cut-and-pasted tracts from emails. I couldn’t have illustrated my point better if I’d tried.

  11. Michael Ryan says:

    Still stuck on this one Giles?

    Perhaps Giles Bennett will tell us what health parameters he’d examine at electoral ward level around a point source of potential air pollution to determine whether or not there had been any harm to health?

  12. Michael Ryan says:

    Perhaps Michael Crane, Chief Executive of Selby Council thought that the opinion of Parish Clerk Giles Bennett wasn’t worth bothering with – otherwise he’d have forwarded my e-mail of 26 July 2010 (pasted earlier in this blog) for the “expert” consideration of Mr Bennett as soon as possible.

  13. Giles Bennett says:

    **** EDITED ****

    Apologies, comments have now been closed on this post.