§ Norman Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls exist on the use of toxic ash from incinerators as an ingredient in breeze block manufacture; and if she will make a statement on the steps taken by her Department on the construction of such breeze blocks by Ballast Phoenix, using material from the London waste incinerator at Edmonton. 
§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 20 November 2002]It is considered by this department and the Environment Agency that the controls for the management of waste, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, extend to the use of incinerator ash until it has been incorporated into a manufactured product (such as breeze blocks). These controls include a duty of care to manage waste safely through the prevention of harm to human health and the environment and through the prevention of the escape of waste. Furthermore, waste disposal and recovery operations are only permitted to take place under the terms of a waste management licence or an exemption from licensing.
Until August 2000, the Edmonton incinerator was mixing bottom ash with fly ash. Following concerns about the levels of dioxins in this material, the Environment Agency launched an investigation into the destination and use of incinerator ash. The investigation found, among other details, that about 15,000 tonnes of mixed ash from Edmonton was supplied by Ballast Phoenix for the manufacture of construction blocks between 1998 and 2000. The investigation included 59W research into the release of dioxins from construction blocks made using mixed ash from the Edmonton incinerator. The Agency found that mixed ash construction blocks do not release measurable levels of dioxins into the air, and that any dust from drilling the blocks is likely to contribute very little to typical overall exposures to dioxins.
The Agency also recommended that subject to guidance and appropriate specifications, bottom ash could be a valuable secondary aggregate. Air Pollution Control residues and fly ash, on the other hand, are hazardous wastes and as such are subject to special controls and should be consigned to sites licensed or permitted to dispose of hazardous wastes.
The Government commissioned the independent environmental consultants AEA Technology to produce a report on the use of incinerator bottom ash in road construction, and this is expected to be published shortly. The Agency's investigation is summarised in their report "Solid Residues from Municipal Waste Incinerators in England and Wales". Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of the House, and it can also be found at: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/105385/ash pdf4.pdf