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Irish Examiner - 17-07-07
Incineration is not the answer

TED CROSBIE (Letters, July 14) makes the point that incineration has two principal qualities: reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill and generation of heat.

Proper separation of waste streams (not happening at present), removal of organics (60% at present to landfill), plastics and commercial and development waste, can do more to reduce waste to landfill.

This is without the added complication of producing toxic ash from incineration which must be land-filled abroad.

There are two vital factors if one is considering incineration — guaranteed volume of waste and a district heating system.

Ireland has just gone through an unprecedented building boom and the one thing all these new houses have in common is that they are not linked to any type of district heating system.

A Danish incineration expert at the national waste summit 2007 advised that if you cannot use the energy, incineration is a waste of time. In Denmark, 80% of houses are heated by district heating systems. These systems are more than 100-years-old.

Electricity produced from incineration is one of the most expensive forms of energy and results in far more pollution. Incineration will do nothing to heal our “wounded world”; rather it will make things worse by pumping millions of extra tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This year the Government is to cough up 270 million of taxpayers’ money in EU fines because the country is almost 100% over its Kyoto protocol limits.

With overwhelming scientific agreement on global warming, there can be no justification for increasing our CO2 emissions. There are very important points to remember about the proposed incinerator in Cork. It contravenes the county development plan, local area plans, the waste management plan and the area strategic plan.

Building a big incinerator to burn rubbish has no part to play in these plans These are democratic decisions made by our public representatives on our behalf.

If they are to be cast aside in the interest of Government policy and lobby groups, then one has to question the value of democracy.

The proposed Ringaskiddy installation fails the WHO site selection criteria for the location of a toxic waste incinerator. These criteria are set down to protect people and the environment. The site suffers from coastal erosion, flooding and thermal inversion, thus threatening the safety of the harbour and its occupants.

Why should the people of Cork or any community be happy to accept such a development, which has failed at every hurdle? This proposal is simply a bid by a company that would have a monopoly to come here, make as much profit as possible and leave us with the mess. Sound familiar?

Government policy now is to concentrate above all on waste prevention and reduction.

The benefit of a no-burn policy is that it will conserve global resources, reduce the volume of waste, improve air quality and reduce our CO2 footprint. These benefits cannot be ignored.

Mary O’Leary BSc, Dip Env Sc
Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishops Road
Co Cork


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
Tel - 021 481 5564      Email -
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