Despite Sweden's heavy reliance on incineration, there is at present nowhere in the country where municipalities and environmental contractors can dispose of the most toxic ash released.
So for more than five years, the overwhelming majority of the country's fly ash — which is highly toxic and constitutes about 10-15 percent of the ash produced — is sent to Langøya island, just outside Oslo, for treatment.
Per-Erik Schulze, a marine biologist with Friends of the Earth Norway, is pushing for Sweden to take care of its own toxic waste, warning that heavy metals could leak into the Oslofjord.
“I doubt anyone wants to live there,” he told Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri. ”There are reports of explosions on the island, something that may happen due to the activities that take place there.”
Fly ash, which must be filtered from incinerator smoke before it can be released to the environment, often contains dangerous dioxins and furans, as well as high levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, copper and zinc.
Noah, the company that runs the operation on Langøya, argues that its system of waste disposal is safe.
The company mixes the fly ash with concrete and then pours it into a disused limestone quarry, which has enough space to continue receiving ash for some five to ten years before it will be full and the facility must be closed.
”There are of course risks, there are risks with everything. But we have done everything that can be done to minimise those risks.” Carl Hartmann, the company's chief executive told Dagens Industri newspaper.