Press Release, April 3, 2007
Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)

BAYER´s Toxic Waste Incineration:

“Commercial interests must take second place to protection of the population’s health”

Contrary to previous announcements, the BAYER Group has entered into international trade in toxic waste. For the time being BAYER plans to incinerate 4,500 metric tons of highly toxic hexachlorobenzene from Australia, for which the company will receive three million euros. Hexachlorobenzene is one of the so-called ‘dirty dozen’, the most dangerous toxins, which are subject to an international ban by the Stockholm Convention. The substance is not biodegradable and leads to metabolic disorders, cancers and organ damage in humans.

As long ago as the late 1980s the Coalition against BAYER Dangers and the Greens forecast toxic waste tourism to BAYER sites and therefore spoke out against the construction of the Dormagen hazardous waste incinerator and the expansion of the Leverkusen refuse incinerator. In fact, 300 companies from Germany and from abroad now send toxic waste to Dormagen and Leverkusen. The Dormagen plant was originally only approved for waste from the BAYER Group and hazardous waste from the neighbouring district. In 2004 it was hurriedly enlarged so that it could incinerate waste from all over the world.

Philipp Mimkes of the Coalition against Bayer Dangers: “The imports of waste products to North Rhine-Westphalia now amount to more than 2.4 million metric tons per year, about a quarter of which is hazardous waste. It is not acceptable that such a densely populated region, which already has a high level of ecological damage, should become the destination for international toxic waste traffic. The commercial interests of BAYER and other ‘disposers’ must therefore take second place to protection of the population’s health.”

BAYER is seeking to dispel doubts about the incineration of toxic waste by talking about reportedly lower emissions. In fact the emissions of the refuse incinerators are nothing like as low as BAYER claims. The Leverkusen refuse incinerator alone discharged over 22 metric tons of sulfur dioxide, 10 metric tons of ammonia and 160 metric tons of nitrogen oxides in 2004. In Dormagen 67 metric tons of nitric oxides and almost 5 metric tons of sulfur dioxide were emitted. In Leverkusen the SO2 emissions doubled within four years, while in Dormagen they actually quadrupled. Other toxic substances are carbon monoxide, particulate matter, nitrogen monoxide and heavy metals.

The population is endangered not only through the discharge of toxic substances, but also by the transport of the toxic waste. There are more and more accidents in water, rail and road transport. Another problem is the filter cakes which occur when cleaning the waste gas; these contain many toxins and must be deposited over decades. Despite requests, BAYER has not published the precise composition and quantity of these filter cakes.

A further risk for residents living near incinerators is disturbances. In 1980 the Leverkusen plant was extensively damaged by an explosion. In August 1986 the flue gas scrubber at the Krefeld refuse incinerator failed and a cloud of yellow smoke escaped. Four months earlier there had been an explosion at the Leverkusen waste disposal plant which released nitrous gases. Residents could smell the gas for kilometers around the plant. In Dormagen in October 2003 a tank containing residues of a base chemical heated up to 120 degrees (normal temperature: 70 degrees). Because of the risk of an explosion the fire department closed off a large area of the site and stopped rail traffic on the Cologne to Neuss line.

With the tighter environmental laws BAYER has indeed reduced the discharge of toxic substances – but the Group would hardly have invested in new technologies if left to their own devices. BAYER freely admits: “The requirements of the German Federal Immission Control Act in the mid-1990s necessitated more extensive flue gas purification”. The Group always fought against such new directives to the last. In the 1990s it even went so far as to object to the Waste Management Act and remote monitoring of emissions.

More Information on Toxic Waste from Australia: