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Irish Times - 11-03-05
Ability of EPA to handle incinerator hearing queried
Elaine Keogh

Fine Gael environment spokesman Fergus O'Dowd has queried the conduct of the oral hearing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into objections to licensing a waste incinerator planned by Indaver Ireland for Co Meath.

At the hearing yesterday, he questioned the competence of the agency to assess the application because it has no qualified health professional on its staff, and because "it did not commission an independent professional report from suitably-qualified health specialists in relation to this specific proposal, not withstanding the great public concern locally about this matter".

He added: "For the future of all our children, whether we are for or against incineration, we must have all the facts and people present or else we cannot expect the integrity of this process."

He wants the Minister for Health and the director general of the agency, Mary Kelly, to explain at the hearing how they plan to take into account the recommendations of the Health Research Board on the effects on public health and the environment of landfill and incineration.

The board found that the Irish health system cannot support routine monitoring of the health of people living near waste sites. It also said there was a lack of baseline human health data.

The chairwoman of the hearing Marie O'Connor said she did not have the power to call them, but it was open to Mr O'Dowd to ask them.

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald accused Indaver of acting illegally by not preparing an environmental impact statement for each of the four sites it identified as possible locations for a waste incinerator.

The Labour candidate in the Meath byelection, Dominic Hannigan, said the former north- eastern health board had stated in a letter that Indaver did not consult with it during the pre-planning phase despite claims to the contrary by the company.

© The Irish Times


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