Manufacturing's Winner And Loser: World's Largest Waste-To-Energy Plant; Erasing The Chemical Link To Cancer

This week's winner is planning the world's largest waste-to-energy plant; this week's loser misled the public by erasing suspected links between a common chemical and brain cancer in biased industry studies.

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This week's winner is planning the world's largest waste-to-energy plant; this week's loser misled the public by erasing suspected links between a common chemical and brain cancer in biased industry studies. 

Winner

Two Danish firms, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Gottlieb Paludan Architects, won the bid to design a massive waste-to-energy plant in southeastern China. 

The facility, expected to be fully operational by 2020, would help with the Shenzen's growing waste problem by burning 5,000 tons of refuse per day, the equivalent of one-third of the city's waste. The plant will also generate its own energy by covering two-thirds of its approximately 216,000-square-foot rough with solar panels. 

As clean energy technologies emerge in the growing market, more companies are beginning to utilize the new methods in favor of non-green energy sources, following industry trends. This new plant will accomplish two critical issues in the region — eliminating a growing waste problem while generating clean, green energy. 

Loser

A report by Vice News and the Center for Public Integrity this week detailed dozens of cases of brain tumors from decades ago that were linked to workers exposed to the chemical vinyl chloride, despite an industry-led review that helped erase the link between the chemcial and the cancer. 

In 1979, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer declared the chemical — used to make PVC material — was responsible for causing brain tumors. The agency reversed that decision nearly three decades later, however, mostly due to an industry-led review in 2000 that yielded inconclusive results. 

But Vice and CPI's report claims the industry study was "flawed, if not rigged." The article cited documents from the original study that intentionally left out workers exposed to vinyl chloride. Furthermore, only one of 23 brain cancer deaths in Texas City was included in the study. Even omitting small numbers can drastically impact a study's results, the Vice and CPI report stated. 

"I think that borders on criminal," Richard Lemen, a former deputy director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, told Vice and CPI. 

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