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Hospitals should protect, not destroy health! NO to incinerators!

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Clinical Hospital Centre (KBC) Zagreb should abandon the construction of the infectious waste incinerator due to the great potential threat to the population and the environment, financial unsustainability and non-compliance with spatial planning documentation of Zagreb.

Infectious waste from hospitals needs to be disposed of with widely available technologies that enable the utilisation of raw materials without impacting the environment. A waste incinerator is by no means that because it turns waste into toxic ash with a miserable amount of energy produced and significant environmental damage. This is clearly stated by the World Health Organisation and the EU within the framework of the strategy for circular economy and conservation of resources, which are destroyed by burning.

Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia supports the Citizens' Initiative - Stop incinerator Rebro KBC Zagreb! (Stop spalionici Rebro KBC Zagreb!). Residents and the expert public are invited to participate in the public debate on the inadequate Environmental Impact Assessment Study (EIA) by January 30th and express their opposition to this project.

Some of the main reasons why the planned construction of an infectious waste incinerator should be abandoned:

  • Incinerators of infectious waste are the lowest on the list of priorities for the disposal of infectious waste prescribed by the EU and the World Health Organisation. This is also stated in the Document on the management of medical waste. So there are much better solutions that have been applied worldwide. For example, autoclaving (steam sterilisation) by which dangerous infectious waste becomes non-hazardous and a good part can then be used in the recycling process. In this way, resources and large amounts of energy are saved, much more significant than would be obtained by burning infectious waste. The EIA does not consider alternative solutions (although there are several other ways of infectious waste material recovery), which is not surprising because the analysis would show that there are environmentally and financially much more acceptable solutions than incineration.
  • Waste incinerators are the most expensive way of waste disposal! In addition to the investment cost, it is also necessary to consider the extremely high operational costs due to the need to change and dispose of toxic filters and the high costs of disposal of toxic waste ash produced by incineration. THE EIA needs an adequate financial analysis that would include all fees. Thus the economic viability of this project could be better, despite the alleged financing of the investment cost through EU funds.
  • Although they work on the principle of modern technologies, waste incinerators emit harmful gases such as dioxin, furan and heavy metals, often exceeding the permitted values. This pollutes the air and harms human health because these compounds are dangerous even in minor quantities, especially if it is a question of exposure for many years. This is confirmed by several studies carried out by authorised laboratories. The EIA does not provide satisfactory solutions for preventing emissions of harmful gases nor for dealing with problems in plant operation. In addition, the control process of the plant by the competent institutions is also questionable, given the known inertness in other cases. In the examples of Marišćina and Kaštijun, where residents barely could breath from the polluted air, the qualified institutions assured that everything was in accordance with the permitted emissions. Therefore, the EIA only justifies the construction of the incinerator, ignoring numerous harmful impacts. The statements of the competent minister, Filipović, who does not even know that his Ministry is responsible for the public discussion and decision-making for this project, do not instill confidence in the institutions either.
  • The waste incinerator in the area of KBC Rebro does not comply with spatial planning documentation, specifically the General Urban Plan (GUP) of Zagreb. For this reason, Zelena akcija submitted a request to the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and State Assets to cancel the City Office's certificate. Namely, the incinerator does not fall within the function of the fundamental purpose of KBC Rebro, which is health care as prescribed by the Zagreb GUP, especially taking into account that it is intended to incinerate solid infectious medical waste from all clinical hospital centers in Zagreb.

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