25 April 2016
By Bryan Smyth
An Oral Hearing into Indaver Ireland’s proposal to develop a €160 million Resource Recovery Centre in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, moves into its second week today at the Carrigaline Court Hotel.
The Pro Incinerator position
John Ahern, Managing Director, Indaver Ireland (which wants to build the incinerator) said, “we look forward to continuing our participation in the planning process being overseen by An Bord Pleanála. We are confident that our proposed development is fully in line with national, regional and local waste management policy, as outlined in the National Spatial Strategy, the Southern Region Waste Management Plan and the Cork County Development Plan. This policy position was recently endorsed by Cork County Council in its Executive report to An Bord Pleanala”.
“Cork produces approximately 200,000 tonnes of residual waste per annum, most of which is sent to waste management facilities throughout the country or exported abroad. In our view, it’s time Cork had access to a locally based waste-to-energy facility in order to deal with its own waste”, concluded Mr. Ahern.
Indaver put forward 16 expert witnesses during the first two days of the Oral Hearing, each of whom presented statements in support of the company’s planning application. The statements covered a range of key planning, environmental and health related issues addressed in Indaver’s planning application submitted to An Bord Pleanála on January 13th.
David Coakley of Coakley O’Neill Town Planning, provided a witness statement outlining current national, regional and local waste managment policy which underpins Indaver Ireland’s planning application. Mr. Coakley’s statement referred to “EU and national waste policy, which requires waste to be managed in an economic, sustainable and environmentally appropriate manner and that waste should be dealt with at, or as close to, source (the proximity principle).
Mr. Coakley also referred to waste policy outlining that “strategic largescale waste treatment facilities, including waste-to-energy facilities will be considered in ‘Industrial Areas’ designated as ‘Strategic Employment Areas’. Ringaskiddy is one such Industrial Area, designated as a Strategic Employment Area”.
In relation to public health, Dr. Martin Hogan submitted a witness statement dealing with the Human Health section of Indaver’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Dr. Hogan’s statement noted that “while there is some conflicting evidence on health effects from older generation incinerators, mutliple studies in peer review medical literature do not show adverse impact on Human Health from modern incinerators”.
In addition, Dr. Hogan noted that “multiple respected bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Public Health England and others have made statements confirming the safety of modern incinerators”.
In conclusion, Dr. Hogan noted that “modelling studies undertaken for particulate matter emanating from modern incinerators show negligible residual impact on human health within Cork Harbour, even among people considered to be in the MARI (most at risk) categories”.
Dr. Fergal Callaghan presented an expert witness statement focusing on his ‘Dioxin Risk Assessment’ studies conducted for inclusion in Indaver’s planning application. Dr. Callaghan conducted a baseline dioxin survey and a dioxin intake assessment and noted that “dioxins are present in the environment as a consequence of everyday combustion processes. These could relate to burning of wood in a domestic stove or fireplace, burning peat, emissions from use of petrol in cars and other vehicles, etc”.
Dr. Callaghan also noted that the Food Safety Authority Ireland Report 2003 (FSAI 2003 ) states that “the FSAI considers that incineration facilities, if properly managed, will not contribute to dioxin levels in the food supply to any significant extent”.
In conclusion, Dr. Callaghan confirmed that “the EU recognises the potential risks associated with dioxins and sets intake limit values accordingly. Limits are set by an expert panel of EU scientists and represent a very conservative approach to dioxin limits”.
Julie Ascoop, an engineer with specific expertise in the area of Coastal Erosion, submitted a witness statement which highlighted findings from a report entitled ‘Coastal Study 2015’. The study was included in Indaver’s EIS and contains findings from studies carried out in the vicinity of Indaver’s site boundary in Ringaskiddy. Ms. Ascoop’s studies found that the proposed facility will not be impacted by coastal erosion in its lifetime.
“Even after 40 years, the predicted maximum erosion would not reach the boundary fence line. Also, the proposed development will not increase the current rate of erosion of the glacial till face. Although, coastal erosion protection mitigation measures are not required for Indaver’s proposed facility, the company has decided to include coastal protection measures as a precautionary measure. These protection measures will also protect the coastal walkway for at least 30 years”, said Ms. Ascoop.
Indaver submitted its planning application to An Bord Pleanála for a 240,000 tonne per annum waste-to-energy facility in Ringaskiddy on January 13th. The proposed facility will treat household, commercial, industrial, non-hazardous and suitable hazardous waste, generating approximately 18.5MW of electricity for export to the national grid.
The anti incinerator position
CHASE has launched a plume plotter. It provides a real time map image modelling ground-level pollution from the incinerator plume, modelled using AERMOD taking incinerator specifications provided by Indaver in their EIS, current weather data from local weather stations, Ordnance Survey (OS) data for places and NASA data for terrain.
A spokesman for plumeplotter.com says his website is “free information service, and is neither anti- or pro-incinerator”
Residents in the Cork Harbour area and far beyond can use the plume plotter to see pollutant dispersal at any given time on www.plumeplotter.com/
Pollutants measured include Oxides of nitrogen, PM10 Particulates, Heavy metals and dioxins.
The 2015 model shows the maximum buildup of pollutants in the area circling from West of the incinerator just outside Carrigaline, to South South East of the Incinerator near the mouth of the Harbour and with the Maritime College, Haulbowline Naval Base and iMERC Campus in the most polluted zone.
CHASE spokesperson Linda Fitzpatrick said “Unlike the complicated tables presented by Indaver, the plume plotter provides a visual model of the same data which enables people to understand far more clearly the fallout model from the proposed incinerator. It models exactly what areas would be most affected, and the annual buildup model shows a dispersal far beyond what many may realise. In the time which we have been monitoring, we have seen days with some pollutant concentrations increased several hundred precent above background levels.”
The plume plotter is based on AERMOD, because that is what Indaver use in their EIS. It is developed by the US EPA, and takes account of the real terrain in the vicinity of the incinerator, current weather conditions, upper air data, as well as properties of the incinerator emissions and the shape of the incinerator buildings.
The Oral Hearing is expected to continue for another two weeks, with a planning decision expected by An Bord Pleanála in July. Information regarding Indaver Ireland’s planning application, including all of the company’s expert witness statements presented to the Board last week, are available at www.ringaskiddyrrc.ieFollow TheCork.ie (The Online Newspaper for Cork, Ireland) on social media