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
- Lack of adequate emergency infrastructure.
WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines include
these exclusionary criteria, all of which apply to the Ringaskiddy
- 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!
"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."