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Engineer expresses concerns over Cork incinerator
Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent
Irish Times - 15/02/05

Concern was expressed yesterday that an incinerator planned for Cork harbour could end up incinerating both dangerous asbestos and explosive material, with possible serious consequences for human health and safety in the area.

Mr Peter North - a chemical engineering consultant with over 35 years experience - told the EPA oral hearing into the granting of a draft waste management licence to Indaver Ireland that he had serious concerns about the company's proposal.

Mr North said that while Indaver said that it would not incinerate asbestos, he believed that there was a possibility that the company would receive asbestos containing material (ACM) in municipal and domestic waste, and would end up incinerating it.

"If some comes in domestic waste and gets into any incinerator, incineration will not destroy asbestos, it will free it from its matrix, be it cement or resin and asbestos fibre will be freed - some will go into fly ash, the majority will come down in bottom ash."

Mr North said that the best way to ensure that asbestos wasn't released from incineration was to carry out vitrification.

Mr North, who was testifying as part of the East Cork for a Safe Environment group, also expressed concerns about the lack of a scanner at the proposed plant which would detect explosive materials, both ordnance and chemicals.

Mr North admitted that the chance of ordnance being disposed of in the incinerator was unlikely, but he did express concern over the classification of explosive materials and cited the example of a long-used chemical which was only recently found to be explosive.

He also said he could see a problem with Indaver's proposed handling system for microbiological-contaminated material such as medical waste and meat and bone meal. The facility would have no problem incinerating such waste, but they would have to shred it and drop it into a bunker before feeding it into the incinerator - that would contaminate the whole bunker which I don't think is very safe," he said.

Earlier, hearing chairman, Dr Jonathan Derham accepted documents from Mr Derry Chambers of Cork Environmental Alliance to support his claim that Cork County Council knew of high levels of dioxins at the proposed incinerator site in 1992.

The documentation included two letters from the then Cork County Council chief environment officer Mr Iain Maclean in February, 1992, stating that the council did not have information on excessive dioxin levels in Cork harbour.

However, a subsequent letter in May, 1992, from assistant chief environmental officer, Mr Kieran O'Brien revealed details of higher levels of the dioxins near the proposed Indaver site, and advised against further comment until further tests are evaluated.

Meanwhile, Mr Alan Navratil of East Cork for a Safe Environment clashed with Dr Derham over the non-attendance of members of the EPA board or team who granted the draft waste management licence to Indaver.

"These proceedings are degenerating into a farce - we are asking questions of one another. Are we in a democracy, or is Mr Mugabe running the bloody country?" asked Mr Navratil in frustration at not being able to question the EPA board.

© The Irish Times

     

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