, 2000

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JUNE 24, 1999  1:05 PM
Multinationals Resource Center
Ann Leonard, 202-387-8030 or 202-777-6009
World Bank Promoting Dioxin Producing Technology in Third World Countries, says New Report
WASHINGTON - June 24 - The World Bank is promoting the use of dioxin-producing medical waste incineration in health sector projects in at least 20 countries around the world, says a new report released today by the international Health Care Without Harm coalition.

The report, "The World Bank's Dangerous Medicine: Promoting Medical Waste Incinerators in Third World Countries" is available from the Multinationals Resource Center or on the World Wide Web at

The Multinationals Resource Center, a Washington, D.C.-based organization founded by Ralph Nader and a member of Health Care Without Harm, today released an inventory of 30 World Bank and International Finance Corporation projects involving medical waste incineration in the following 20 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, Western Samoa and Zimbabwe.

Babcar Ndaw of the Senegalese anti-incinerator network, Reseau Senegalais d'Information sur les Dechets, demanded of that Bank's health sector projects that "we want funds to treat us and not to poison us."

Medical waste incinerators produce significant amounts of dioxin, a carcinogen and the most toxic manmade pollutant known to science, and mercury, a heavy metal which causes central nervous system, brain, kidney and lung damage. Earlier this month, traces of dioxin in animal feed in Belgium caused the most expensive international food contamination scandal in history.

"At a time when Europeans are frightened about dioxin in their food supply and American babies are being born with dioxin already in their bodies, it is outrageous that the World Bank is actually financing projects which will increase the dioxin load in countries around the world" explained Gary Cohen, co-coordinator of the Health Care Without Harm coalition.

Medical waste incineration is increasingly being rejected in industrialized countries because the public and policy makers have learned of its dangers and advantages of alternative treatment technologies. In the United States, in 1990 there were more than 4,500 incinerators in operation; the number has declined to less than 2,500 today and most of these are closing since they can not meet environmental standards.

"While the United States is turning away from this technology, the World Bank is promoting it" explained Ann Leonard, director of MRC. "It is incredibly ironic that the World Bank, an institution allegedly committed to environmental protection, is facilitating the spread of this dangerous technology to Third World Countries. It is a clear case of environmental racism -- incinerators and dioxin are too dangerous for us in the rich countries but are acceptable for people in the Third World."

Environmental and health organizations in India, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Senegal, South Africa, and Turkey also released the report and called for an end to medical waste incineration in their countries.

Nityanand Jayaraman, an anti-incinerator expert in India said: "Citizen groups and communities in India must be warned about the World Bank's complicity to poison us by financing incinerator proposals. It's a pity that the Bank hasn't learnt from its past mistakes and continues to dump dirty western technologies and practices onto unsuspecting southern countries."

Complete copies of the World Bank's Project Information Documents for each project are available from Farzana Anwar at MRC: 202-387-8030; Email:


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