Monday 5 September 2011

And The Tobacco-Powered Electricity Plant Is ...

Regular readers may remember the saga of the mystical power station. To recap in the style of a production line glossy yank TV drama:

{deep, ominous voice} Previously, on Dick Puddlecote ...

A fellow jewel robber first asked what happened to tobacco confiscated by UKBA.

Tobacco products are shredded and the pulp is taken to a power station and used as an alternative fuel source for power generation.

We do not hold any information on the power station that burns this alternative fuel source or the measures the power station takes to prevent the exposure to people of “second hand smoke”.
A follow up request to find out the location of this power station was deemed too sensitive.

Disclosure of this information could put at risk the safety and welfare of the staff at the site where the tobacco is being shredded and transformed into an alternative fuel product. If this information was made public it could increase the risk of recovery by force of the tobacco product prior to it undergoing the necessary treatment processes.

This is clearly not in the public interest.
So, now for the latest instalment. Sadly for UKBA, the Information Commissioner disagreed.

My findings are set out in the attached report. My conclusion is that the original response should have been handled under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) rather than the Freedom of Information Act. There is a strong public interest in releasing the information. There are no exceptions under the EIR which apply to the requested information. The information is therefore deemed suitable for release and is enclosed at paragraph 14 in the following report.
It's not good news for Berkshire.

14.There are no exceptions under the Environmental Information Regulations which would prevent release of the requested information. It is therefore deemed suitable for release and I can confirm that at the time of tendering for this work the contractor proposed to use the following power station:

Slough Heat & Power Ltd
Fibre Fuels Ltd
6 Edinburgh Avenue
Slough SL1 477
Good God! Kennedy Park is just up the road, and a University in the vicinity. Are they mad? Won't somebody think of the children! (click to enlarge)

Shall we paraphrase Betjeman?

Come friendly passive smoke and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for smokerphobes now,
There isn't clean air to ... (lost for a rhyme here - I'm no poet)
Swarm over, Death!
But wait! What's this?

16.Although not matters for this report, UKBA has provided the following answers to the new questions put forward by Mr [Jewel Robber] in his internal review request.

Are the seized tobacco products shredded with or without their packaging?

The tobacco is shredded with its packaging. The seized tobacco is shredded and made into a pulp with water before being transformed into fuel pellets. Once the tobacco has been pulped it becomes a waste product and is no longer capable of being smoked.

As it is against the Law to be in possession of a lit substance capable of being smoked in a substantially enclosed public place, is the burning process accomplished in the open air where the Law states that it is legal to do so?

The power station that the pulped product is taken to is a licensed facility which needs to comply with its statutory legal obligations. As mentioned above, the pulped tobacco is not capable of being smoked.
What a blessed relief, eh? Although the tobacco is being burned - and the smoke being emitted - it hasn't been enjoyed by a smoker beforehand ... because it's not capable of being smoked. Very important, that. All those 4000 chemicals - from millions of cigarettes being burned - are rendered entirely harmless if no benefit is being derived by smokers.

It's OK, anti-smokers of Slough, you can put your gas masks away and stop loading all your worldly possessions into your car now. Panic over.


Belinda said...

very good story :-D

Anonymous said...

Can i then turn my tobacco into a pulp.dry it out,then smoke it wherever i like because it is now rendered immpossible to smoke?

The witch from Essex said...

I am still not too happy with my response.
How can cellophane and foil be pulped ? I am sure that it can't be water soluble.
The cellophane and filter tips are made from cellulose.
Cellulose has no taste, is odourless, is hydrophilic with the contact angle of 20–30, is insoluble in water and most organic solvents, is chiral and is biodegradable. It can be broken down chemically into its glucose units by treating it with concentrated acids at high temperature.
We are always hearing that filter tips take years to break down.
How can these products be 'pulped' so easily and then burned ?
Another FOI methinks !!

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon: I think you are correct in that assumption. If your local landlord objects, just print this off and show him that it is totally harmless. The government says so, after all :)

Dick Puddlecote said...

Witch: I thought the same thing. Tobacco smoke is apparently deadly ... but not if mixed with filters, cellophane, card, ink and other chemicals and then burned.

Truly, the state has mastered alchemy. :)

George Speller said...

I think it would be a good idea to tip off the local newspaper about this scandal . . . . . .

Dick Puddlecote said...

George: It had crossed my mind too. Do you want to do the honours? E-mail for more details. ;)

Anonymous said...

Dick, Sorry for posting on this thread off topic but have you seen this today?


Anonymous said...

""Come friendly smoke and fall of Slough.
Only fit for smokers now.
Swan over Death! Swan over Death!
Hang on a mo....I'm out of breath.

A subtle little amendment, DP.
o..ver. o...ver.


Like it? Tee-hee.

Xopher said...

What happens to the drained off water when making the pulp?
How many of the 4,000 nasty chemicals escape to pollute our sewers?
Think of the baby sewer rats!

Anonymous said...

Pulping tobacco into burnable condensed pellets sounds a little like the processing of marijuana into highly concentrated hash-hish. If that is the case, then those pellets should be more deadly than the tobacco, filters and packing materials from which they were made. Most definitely this is a scandal, one that could be reported with a serious straight face by any reporter on BBC as an outrage for the killing effect on the population of Slough.

Anonymous said...

If this ' mish mash ' is being burned to supply electricity I am going to block up my electrical sockets. Who knows what dangerous goo may be coming out from them. Sockets near the floor are particularly dangerous to children as they could be crawling on the floor and breathing in dangerous toxins.

selsey.steve said...

Heh! All you've got to do is to befriend someone in the unloading bays at Slough Heat & Power Ltd
and you'll never have to purchase any more fags ever again!


Sam Duncan said...

Absolutely, Anon 13:13. We need to know which domestic energy companies are using this deadly tobacco-tricity, and why their customers haven't been warned. Then organise a boycott. Children, health, etc.!

Angry Exile said...

Can open, worms everywhere. Lovely.

Leg-iron said...

Pulped? In water?

Nicotine is water soluble, so that means the water supply is now full of it.

And the healthies are drinking two litres a day as directed.

Excuse me, I feel a Joker laugh comiong on.

Mr A said...

Re: Anon 13:13

You're right to be concerned, as deadly tobacco smoke can indeed travel down electricity wires. ASH US proved it!

(You really, really couldn't make it up, could you.....). Truly, we are living in the new Dark Ages.