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Why is the site unsuitable?                                              
Summary of main reasons

The Inspector’s assessment cites the following reasons why the site is unsuitable:

  • Proximity to areas of high-density housing in Ringaskiddy, Cobh, Monkstown etc. and to the National Maritime College, which will be less than 100 metres away.
  • At risk of flooding and erosion, with a very real possibility of pollution of the ground water and harbour waters.
  • Inadequate, congested, and even hazardous road infrastructure
  • Lack of adequate emergency infrastructure.

WHO Guidelines

WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines include these exclusionary criteria, all of which apply to the Ringaskiddy site:

  • coastal areas subject to floods (see photos of Oct. 2004 flooding of site here)
  • atmospheric conditions such as inversions which would prevent safe dispersal of accidental releases
  • proximity to sensitive installations storing flammable or explosive materials.

Dispersal of accidental emissions

Even with state-of-the-art technology and regular monitoring, emission control equipment is only mechanical and can and does fail. The result will be uncontrolled discharges to the atmosphere, potentially well in excess of permitted limits.

Cork Harbour is a valley that regularly experiences thermal inversions (an exclusion factor in the WHO guidelines). Pollutants released under these conditions will be trapped in the harbour area, contaminating living organisms, air, soil, and the food chain.

Why was this not considered in the EIS? Because the model used to predict the impact of emissions was based on meteorological data from Cork Airport, which is 12 miles away, 100m higher, and rarely experiences thermal inversions!

Significant quotes

"Asked whether he could definitively say that there would not be any accidents at the proposed plant, Mr. Ahern stated that of course he could not give such a guarantee."
Oral Hearing Proceedings

"Thermal inversion occurs when a layer of warm air settles over a layer of cooler air that lies near the ground. The warm air holds down the cool air and prevents pollutants from rising and scattering."
Thermal Inversion Definition

"the proposed site … is objectively unsuitable to accommodate the proposed development. It should, in my judgment, be refused on this ground."
Inspector’s Assessment


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