Irish Examiner - 15th February
THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will lose all credibility, if it does not withdraw the draft licence which it has granted for the country’s first €93m toxic waste incinerator in County Cork, Green Party TD Dan Boyle said yesterday.
Mr Boyle made his plea on the opening day of the EPA's oral hearing into the draft licence to Indaver Ireland to build a toxic waste and municipal waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy.
"If the EPA fails to withdraw the licence then it will confirm what many believe, that this is a flawed process verging on farce," said Mr Boyle.
As over 50 objectors protested outside the oral hearing at the Cork Airport Great Southern Hotel, the EPA board angered protesters further by rejecting calls to come and answer questions directly about why they granted the licence.
Kinsale Environmental Watch spokeswoman Roma Fulton said that no one can judge their own case and asked the chairman, Dr Jonathan Derham, if he felt it was appropriate that an EPA employee act as adjudicator.
Dr Derham said that, if necessary, he would call the EPA to give evidence in the hearing and that he had no difficulty with his own appointment or that of EPA senior inspector Michael Owens as co-chairman of the oral hearing.
"The principle of an oral hearing being adjudicated by a EPA staff member has been adjudicated by the Supreme Court and they found no difficulty with it," Dr Derham said.
Fifteen objectors have lodged objections to the granting of the waste licence for a toxic incinerator. Three objectors who made their cases to the hearing yesterday said the incinerator must not be built because it would pose major health, public safety, and environmental risks. Cork Environmental Alliance spokesman Derry Chambers said no one was looking after the effects this toxic incinerator will have on public health because it falls between two stools the EPA and the health authorities.
"Until the EPA and the relevant health protection authorities get together to sort out this difference of opinion no further new pollution licences should be issued," Mr Chambers added.
Green Party Deputy Dan Boyle said he would be concerned for public safety if the incinerator goes ahead because 40% of hazardous waste for the plant will pass through Cork City and the Jack Lynch Tunnel.
"What will happen if a truck overturns in the tunnel and the hazardous waste escapes? This is an unacceptable and unnecessary risk that cannot be properly protected under the major emergency plan," Mr Boyle told the hearing.
These trucks will also have to pass through the highly densely populated areas of Mahon, Douglas and Carrigaline on their way to Ringaskiddy.
The last industrial accident at Hicksons Pharmaceutical plant in 1993 showed there were major deficiencies with the emergency plan, water pressure and time in getting to the plant 60 minutes for some fire brigades, said Mr Boyle. And the recent flooding in Cork Harbour caused extensive damage to the proposed site, he added.
Indaver's Belgium home base has a very poor record with dioxin levels much higher than any other EU State, according to the Greens TD.
"Indaver had difficulties with their Antwerp plant and this raised questions about the technology and the ability of the applicant company to run it," he said.
However, Indaver Ireland spokesman Paul Gardiner rejected this statement and insisted that their Antwerp plant emitted its permissible dioxin levels.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment