Irish Examiner - 06-06-05
THE Government has failed to respond to a report published two years ago which found incinerator emissions are directly linked to chronic respiratory diseases.
Despite this, Environment Minister Dick Roche last week announced plans to fast-track incinerators and other contentious infrastructure projects.
The State-funded Health Research Board study found there is some evidence that incinerator emissions may be associated with respiratory morbidity and are directly linked to acute and chronic respiratory diseases.
The report found that there is growing evidence of a link between developing certain cancers and living close to incinerator sites. However, it said the findings of numerous reports were not conclusive.
The Government remains fully committed to incinerators, despite having failed to respond to the HRB report. Last week, Mr Roche outlined a series of measures, including the establishment of a strategic infrastructure division of An Bord Pleanala, aimed at reducing the amount of time major projects, including roads, landfills and incinerators, take to get through the planning process.
The division will have increased powers to adjudicate on projects such as rail and metro, pipelines, electricity infrastructure, incinerators and landfills.
Asked by Labour TD Kathleen Lynch in the Dail when he intended to publish a response to the HRB report, Mr Roche said the delay was because of the need to consider a British Government report published "more recently".
However, the .British report in question - A Review of Environmental and Health Effects of Waste Management - was published on May 6, 2004.
"The HRB study on the effects of landfill and incineration was published in 2003", Mr Roche said. "My department, together with the Department of Health and Children and the Environmental Protection Agency, have been considering this report with a view to co-ordinating a response to its findings.
"This process has taken longer than originally anticipated, due primarily to the need to also consider a more recently published UK Government report.
Consideration of the issues has been concluded by the bodies concerned and an agreed draft response has been prepared, which I intend to publish without delay," Mr Roche said.
A spokeswoman for the minister yesterday said the response would be published "very shortly".
The Health Research Board published the literature review on the effects incineration and landfill February 2003, after being asked to do so by the department itself.
The study found "there is some evidence that incinerator emissions may be associated with respiratory morbidity. Acute and chronic respiratory symptoms are associated with incinerator emissions".
It added: "A number of well-designed studies have reported associations between developing certain cancers and living close to incinerator sites. Specific cancers identified include primary liver cancer, laryngeal cancer, soft-tissue sarcoma and lung cancer."
However, it said evidence of a link between cancer and proximity to an incinerator was not conclusive.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment