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NEWS | Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Government dragged its feet on incinerator – Labour

Labour’s spokespersons for the environment, MPs Joe Brincat and Roderick Galdes, have accused minister George Pullicino of ‘lying’ about the closure of the St Luke’s incinerator last Monday.
“It is not true that there was an initiative by the government to remove the environmental problems caused by the incinerator,” the MPs said over the long-term problem of black smoke plaguing Pietà and its environs due to the hospital incinerator.
The MPs said it was the intervention of Labour MEP Joseph Muscat and the Labour party’s insistence in Brussels that led to immediate action being taken by the European Commission.
“The Nationalist government kept dragging its feet on this issue by closing down the incinerator on the last day from the deadline given to it by the Commission to close down the incinerator,” the MPs said.
They charged the government with not having mentioned the environmental infringement procedures launched by the European Commission over this matter back in November. “Nor did the government mention that the Commission had effectively warned that legal steps would be taken unless the incinerator is not dismantled by 17 December.”
They accused the government of being “dilettantes” on the crisis of waste management.
The St Luke’s hospital incinerator was on Monday symbolically shut down on the deadline given by the Commission. Clinical waste stopped being incinerated from December 1 and is now stored at the new Marsa incinerator, which will treat abattoir waste, medical waste and industrial waste.
The chimney will not be dismantled to let out the steam generated from the hospital’s boilers.
In 2003, a non-burn technology replacement failed to materialise when the winning bidder was unable to deliver the technology because the parent company providing the microwave disposal unit had been forced into bankruptcy.
The Commission had said the incinerator facilities at St Luke’s were being used in breach of its directives on emissions, stepping up legal procedures with a reasoned opinion.

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