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Irish examiner - 09/12/04
Why issue licences to pollute as they please?

WHEN it comes to waste disposal policy it’s important to remember that, as a Government-appointed body, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accountable only to itself.

The EPA says that 30% of all applicants fail to adhere to the terms of their licence during routine operation. Why? Clearly surveillance is not effective. Long before a facility is operational it should be established whether the applicant has the technology and staff to meet the terms of the licence.

Should Indaver turn out to be one of the 30% which fail to adhere to their licence, what could it cost Irish taxpayers? It cost the Belgian economy €500m in lost revenue and clean-up following a dioxin release. Indaver say their insurance covers them up to €12.5m per incident but if the Belgian experience were to be repeated here, our bill would be a trifling €487.5m.

It is obvious even to those with no knowledge of hazardous waste incineration that if you do not know what you are burning, you do not know what’s in the smoke. Most people die of toxic smoke in fires rather than from burns, so you do not have to see the flames in order to suffer.

Indaver may publish a waste ‘dream list’, but what happens when they mix the contents of all those tankers and drums of liquid waste from the pharmaceutical companies around Cork Harbour and beyond?

Should the Health and Safety Authority take a second glance at the revised data, they will have to consider the risk of a major catastrophe occurring in the Cork harbour area - including plans for evacuating the local population.

Would it not be to everyone’s benefit for the EPA to have some real independence, sound advice and a rigorous evaluation of the long-term risks of such facilities in Ireland.

It would also save further embarrassment to politicians in the next election for ignoring the concerns of the electorate in the failure of the planning and licensing authorities to do their jobs in an impartial and professional manner.

Mary Fitzgerald
3 Cú Chulainn Place
Cobh
Co Cork

     

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