Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Safe distances at issue at the Ringiskiddy incinerator oral hearing

Evidence was presented at this morning's Ringiskiddy, Indaver, Oral Hearing by Mr Peter Daly, Chief Emergency Management Officer for the HSE (Health Services Executive), South, whose function in that role is to prepare emergency plans for the HSE for all type of Major Emergencies. Mr Daly said that distances claimed to be safe by Indaver would be regarded as well inside the danger zones by Public Response Agencies in the event of an accident or emergency.

Mr Daly said that should an accident occur, response plans prepared by Principle Response Agencies would define a 'Warm Zone' that "in this instance will at least include the public road" and "will carefully consider the risk of allowing even their own staff into that Warm Zone". The Warm Zone is described as being inside the 'Inner Cordon' where "airborne concentrations above which the general population could experience irreversible or other serious effects occur". Mr Daly also said:

- credible scenarios MUST include the possibility of a Vapour Cloud Explosion, which is currently omitted.
- in the event of an emergency there is insufficient infrastructure with only one entry and the same exit point to and from the same area.
- the occupants of the NMCI (Maritime College) should not be required to evacuate in the direction of the incident, indeed to within a few meters of the proposed plant.

Mr Daly is a former Defense Forces Engineering Officer and served as a Chemical Weapons Inspector to UNSCOM in Iraq. He holds a postgraduate qualification in Mechanical Engineering, and has made a study of the Seveso Legislation and related matters. He stressed that he made his submission as a private individual, but that the detailed knowledge he has in relation to Seveso issues is a result of his education, training, experience and derived from his current HSE responsibilities.

Outlining the process by which Principle Response Agencies prepare emergency plans at Seveso sites, which use the Public Safety Zone as a basis for emergency response, Mr Daly said "The Public Safety Zone (PSZ) addresses low probability scenarios. These incidents may however be of high consequence. In the unlikely event of an incident occurring there will be casualties with varying degrees of injury. The Public Safety Zone consists essentially of three zones i.e. Hot, Warm and Cold (Zones). Distances claimed as safe in the application would be regarded by the Public Response Agencies in emergency response as well inside a PSZ Warm circle. The area that they would regard as being in a 'warm zone' would be significantly greater than the perimeter of the plant."

Mr Daly also highlighted that in planning an emergency response, the Public Response Agencies must provide for primary and secondary access as a basic tenet. He said "This principle is not achievable in the proposed site. The area is effectively a cul-de-sac with only one entry point and if that entry point along the Ringaskiddy road is compromised then the Public Response Agencies will be significantly affected with the potential of very serious consequences.

The same principles dictate that "the concept of persons being evacuated from the Maritime College being compelled to move towards the facility, before being able to flee to the left or to the right will be of significant and on-going concern."

Source: Cork Harbour Alliance For a Safe Environment www.chaseireland.org


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