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Irish Times - 01-03-05
EPA hearing told of dioxin risk assessment
Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent

The intake of dioxins by people living around Cork Harbour would be equivalent to an extra glass of milk a day if Indaver Ireland got permission to proceed with its hazardous waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy, it was claimed yesterday.

On the 11th day of the Environmental Protection Agency oral hearing into the granting of a draft waste licence to Indaver, Fergal Callaghan of AWN Consulting, for Indaver, said that he had constructed a model assessing the risk from dioxin emissions if the plant got the go-ahead.

"It is important to note that the majority of dioxin intake to which the inhabitants of Cork Harbour are exposed to currently is from food and this will still be the case when this facility is operational," said Dr Callaghan.

"The EU Science Committee on Food in their report of 2000 have noted that some 90 per cent of dioxin intake for citizens of European countries is from food, with 80 per cent of food-related intake being from fish, meat and milk products.

"The extra dioxin burden from this plant is the equivalent of drinking about 30 millilitres, or one glass of milk a day in rural Cork," he said.

He added that the dioxin burden would be less than half of the lower guide limit set by the World Health Organisation.

Dr Callaghan said that the background study of dioxin levels in the soil in Ringaskiddy and Cork Harbour was found to be low compared to data from other countries and the predicted impact of the plant was found to be low using a maximum at risk individual model.

However, questioned by solicitor Joe Noonan for Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment, Dr Callaghan confirmed that the maximum risk model which he used was based on an assumption that the individual was a 60kg adult and not a young child or a baby.

Mr Noonan said the hearing had received medical evidence from Dr Gavin Ten Tusscher that those most at risk from dioxins were not adults but foetuses, babies and young children, who were not considered by Dr Callaghan in his model to predict risk.

Dr Callaghan said that appeared to him to be a sweeping statement but he conceded that he was not a medical expert and could not give a medical opinion on who was most likely to be affected by dioxin emissions.

He said that in his study he had based his worst-case impact on the basis that the plant was operating within its licensed emissions limits. "It's based on the plant's maximum emission volumes - outside of that, you are speculating on what might or might not happen."

Associate director of Arup Consulting Engineers Ria Lyden said that floor levels in the waste to energy plant would be almost three metres above the flood level of October 27th last when part of the site flooded.

"The waste to energy plant would not have flooded on 27th October, 2004. For the waste to energy plant to flood, the centres of Cork and Carrigaline would need to be under more than three metres of water," she said.

Questioned by Mr Noonan, Ms Lyden said Arup Consulting Engineers had not measured the depth of the flood waters at the site on October 27th because they had not been asked to do so by Indaver Ireland, even though they had measured flood depths in Carrigaline for another client.

© The Irish Times

     

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