Irish Examiner - 24/02/05
THE company proposing to build Ireland’s first toxic waste incinerator insisted yesterday that it does not want to kill anyone or give anyone cancer - but admitted it had made a “serious” mistake in the past.
Indaver Ireland managing director John Ahern admitted the company made a mistake when there was an accidental release of dioxins from one of its burners in Antwerp, Belgium.
“The mistake we made was that we forgot what we were trying to do - it was a major design problem for a static kiln but that would not happen in Cork,” Mr Ahern said.
He told the eighth day of an oral hearing into the proposed €93 million toxic waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy that neither the same technology nor waste will be used in Cork.
However, East Cork for a Safe Environment spokesman Peter North questioned Indaver’s ability to operate an incinerator in Cork following the accident at the Antwerp plant.
“This to me is a major procedural management problem which went through a whole rake of people - it is absolutely unforgivable,” he said.
Mr Ahern admitted again it was a very serious mistake and said the company had apologised very publicly to the community, but there was no measurable damage done by it.
However, Mr North said: “The people who built this in Belgium, I would not have them build, maintain or operate a garden barbecue.”
Mr Ahern replied: “Peter, you are absolutely right, we made a mistake here. Accidents do happen.”
Mr Ahern said Indaver would agree to a baseline health study being carried out on the people in Cork Harbour before the incinerator is built and would also agree to a Health Impact Assessment being carried out on the project.
Asked if one of the reasons for concerns about the project was due to the lack of any health survey in the Cork Harbour area, Mr Ahern said: “I think you are right, it is one of the reasons the community is not confident and there is a lack of confidence in some Government agencies.”
Mr Ahern also gave the oral hearing a list of several international and national systems that are in place to protect public health in all aspects of incineration. These include:
* The World Health Organisation (WHO), which states that “properly managed” modern incineration plants do not pose any threat to human health.
* The European Commission, which has recognised that incineration is a necessary part of modern waste management and introduced a directive in 2000 laying down the rules for the safe operation of these plants and emission levels.
* The Department of the Environment, which supports incineration as national policy.
* The Environmental Protection Agency, which was set up to protect the environment and public health.
* The Department of Health, the Food Safety Authority, Institute of Public Health and Health Information and Quality Authority, which have all been charged with protecting public health.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment