The Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) is a new independent facility for the investigation of disease near industrial installations in the UK. SAHSU analysed the incidence of cancers of the larynx and lung near the incinerator of waste solvents and oils at Charnock Richard, Coppull, Lancashire (which operated between 1972 and 1980) and nine other similar incinerators in Great Britain, after reports of a cluster of cases of cancer of the larynx near the Charnock Richard site. Postcoded cancer registration data were available for 1974-84 in England and Wales and 1975-87 in Scotland. Lag periods of 5 and 10 years were used between start-up (or first registration) of the incinerators and cancer incidence. Standardised observed/expected (O/E) ratios were assessed within 3 km and 3-10 km of each site and then aggregated over all sites. Expected values were based on national rates (regionally adjusted) with and without stratification by Carstairs' index, a measure of the socioeconomic profile of areas that uses census data for enumeration districts. Data were also assessed over a range of circles up to 10 km to test for trend in O/E ratios with distance. For Charnock Richard, none of the O/E ratios within 3 km or from 3-10 km differed significantly from unity, for either cancer or lag period. In the analysis of all sites with stratification by Carstairs' index, none of these O/E ratios differed significantly from unity for the two cancers. There was no evidence of decreasing risk with distance from the sites of either cancer. We conclude that the apparent cluster of cases of cancer of the larynx reported near Charnock Richard was unlikely to be due to its former incinerator.