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WHO Guidelines for siting of hazardous waste incinerators

Exclusionary factors in site selection for hazardous waste management facilities

  • Unstable or weak soils, such as organic soil, soft clay or clay-sand mixtures, clays that lose strength with compaction, clays with a shrink-swell character, sands subject to subsidence and hydraulic influence, and soils that lose strength with wetting or shock.

  • Subsidence owing to solution-prone subsurfaces, subsurface mines (for coal, salt and sulphur) and water, oil or gas withdrawal.

  • Saturated soils, as found in coastal or riverine wetlands.

  • Groundwater recharge, as in areas with outcrops of aquifers of significant or potential use, considering water availability and regional geology (where an impermeable or retarding layer shields the aquifer from the land surface, a specific site analysis should be conducted).

  • Flooding, as in flood plains or hydraulic encroachment, coastal or riverine areas with a history of flooding every 100 years or less, and areas susceptible to stream-channel or storm encroachment (even if not historically subject to flooding).

  • Surface water, which precludes sites above an existing reservoir or a location designated as a future reservoir, or above an intake for water used for human or animal consumption or agriculture and within a distance that does not permit response to a spill based on high-flow (most rapid) time of travel.

  • Atmospheric conditions, such as inversions or other conditions that would prevent the safe dispersal of an accidental release.

  • Major natural hazards, such as volcanic action, seismic disturbance (of at least VII on the modified Mercalli scale) and landslides.

  • Natural resources, such as the habitats of endangered species, existing or designated parks, forests and natural or wilderness areas.

  • Agricultural or forest land of economic or cultural importance.

  • Historic locations or structures, locations of archaeological significance and locations or land revered in various traditions.

  • Sensitive installations, such as those storing flammable or explosive materials, and airports.

  • Stationary populations, such as those of hospitals and correctional institutions.

  • Inequity resulting from an imbalance of unwanted facilities of un-related function or from damage to a distinctive and irreplaceable culture or to people’s unique ties to a place.

CHASE Comments

The Ringaskiddy site fails on 13 of the 14 above exclusionary criteria. Strict adherence to these criteria is vital to the safety of host communities. This is the caveat on which the WHO base any of their support for incineration. That the Ringaskiddy incinerators have failed at the first critical hurdle means that no conditions imposed by the EPA will ever make them safe.


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
Tel - 021 481 5564      Email -
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