Irish Examiner - 10-06-05
TWO Cabinet Ministers visiting Cork yesterday were accused of ignoring the health of 30,000 local people opposed to the proposed €93 million toxic waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy and treating them with “contempt.” Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE) said both Health Minister Mary Harney and Environment Minister Dick Roche have refused to meet them and say exactly who is responsible for the health impact of this toxic waste incinerator.
“A top Dutch paediatrician who has monitored the effects of toxic waste incinerators in Holland has testified that they have a severe impact on babies and children up to five, yet no Government Department wants to take responsibility for the health impact of these incinerators,” CHASE spokesperson Mary Hurley said.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will rule later this month on whether or not to give the Ringaskiddy toxic waste incinerator the go-ahead with a waste management licence.
Ms Hurley said that CHASE appreciates that neither Minister can interfere with the independence of the EPA and they are not asking for this.
“All we want to know is which Department will take responsibility for the health impact of this incinerator - but both Ministers have treated us with contempt and [like] second class citizens by refusing to meet us to discuss legitimate health concerns,” Ms Hurley said.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell was able to get a toxic waste incinerator proposed for his Ringsend backyard exempted from a new system that will fast-track the building of incinerators, the CHASE spokesperson said.
“The Progressive Democrats are political NIMBYS - Not in My Backyard - and cut a deal on the Ringsend incinerator that ensured it went through the old planning system which could be delayed indefinitely,” Ms Hurley added.
However, both Ms Harney and Mr Roche rejected the claim that they had ignored CHASE and treated them with contempt.
Ms Harney said that it was not her role to interfere with the independence of the EPA and she did not believe there were any health concerns about the safety of new incinerators.
“The latest national and international reports show that modern incinerators pose no threat to health or the food chain,” Ms Harney said.
Mr Roche said there were concerns about the old incinerators used in Holland but the modern facilities proposed for Ringaskiddy have had three endorsements recently.
But CHASE wants a moratorium placed on the building of any toxic waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy until a baseline health study can be carried out on the health of the people living in the harbour area.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment