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Irish Times - 17-02-05
Flooding concerns raised over site of incinerator

Opponents of the planned hazardous waste and municipal waste incinerator proposed for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour yesterday raised serious concerns about health and safety issues in the event of an accident at the plant and flooding at the site.

Mr Peter Walter - a lecturer at the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy - told the EPA oral hearing that he was very concerned at the proximity of the proposed Indaver incinerator to the college which caters for 700 students and 70 staff.

Mr Walter said the Indaver site is across the road from the southern boundary of the college and while they had lifeboats and a jetty at the northern side of the campus, the lifeboats could only cater for 100 people so he was worried about evacuating the area.

He also expressed concerns about the emission of toxic chemicals from the planned incinerator and pointed out that Indaver had confirmed that the maximum concentration of emissions from the plant will be at "the immediate boundaries of the site". Mr Walter quoted from a former incinerator inspector for Texas, Dr Neil Carman, who described the area around incinerators as "zones of sacrifice" where children not only become ill but die from "leukaemia, brain cancers and a host of other disorders".

Mr Walter, who was speaking on behalf of the Ringaskiddy and District Residents' Association, said he hoped the proximity of the college to the site would lead the EPA to withdraw the draft licence it has issued to Indaver.

The chairwoman of the Cork Harbour for a Safe Alliance, Ms Mary O'Leary, also expressed serious concerns about flooding at the proposed site last October and she criticised the EPA for not properly assessing the flood risk when it granted Indaver a draft licence. She said Indaver's map of the area didn't include floor levels but assuming it was based on Ordinance Data (OD) using Malin Head datum, the site map clearly shows that the working floor level of the waste transfer station is below the flood levels of last October.

"The floor level as stated by Indaver is at 2.5 metres OD in the yard and 2.6 metres in the transfer station. The flood levels in October 2004 were at 2.85 metres using Malin Head datum - this would result in the entire waste transfer area being flooded," said Ms O'Leary.

Mr Paul Gardiner SC, for Indaver, pointed out that the company plans to put in a kerb around the waste transfer station but Ms O'Leary said CHASE's expert advice was that such a kerb would not protect against a 1/100 year flood level.

"We have taken advice and we have been reliably informed that it is considered prudent engineering practice 'to have all working areas, especially those liable to flood, at least half a metre above the 1/100 year flood level'," she said.

"The flood levels of October 2004 were not the 100 year flood level that all proper planning refers to - putting in a 300 mm lip in this situation would be as useful as an umbrella in a storm force wind," she said.

Ms O'Leary accepted that the incinerators were well above flood levels at 5 metres but the waste transfer station poses an environmental disaster in relation to contaminating the harbour waters with hazardous waste in the event of a flood.

Earlier, Mr Gardiner said Indaver had conducted a study of the site in early 2001 prior to buying it and found it was not contaminated even though Cork County Council had confirmed internally in 1992, it had excessive dioxin levels.

Barry Roche
© The Irish Times


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