Saturday 24 November 2007

Incinerator safe, says EPA -- as long as it's run properly

THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told worried residents yesterday that the Poolbeg incinerator will not cause any health problems - if operated correctly.

Approving a draft operating licence for the incinerator yesterday, the EPA said that when running in accordance with its 109 conditions it would "not adversely affect human health or the environment".

The EPA said it was debarred in law from granting a waste licence unless satisfied the project would not cause environmental pollution if run properly.

The incinerator will also meet all national and EU standards, it added.

The EPA pollution licence approval, days after An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission for the project, is another rebuff for Environment Minister John Gormley. The minister opposed the incinerator in his constituency and pledged it would not go ahead if the Greens got into office.

The announcement by the EPA means work can start on the incinerator if the ruling is upheld after a 28-day period for public consultation.

One of the key conditions is that the plant can only take residual waste. This means any waste that has been subjected to pre-treatment, which includes pre-segregation, sorting, mechanical-biological treatment to extract recyclable and reusable components.

Mr Gormley, in a statement, said he was legally prohibited from becoming involved in an ongoing waste licensing process but insisted his position on incineration is well known.

However, Green Party chairperson Senator Dan Boyle claimed the condition that the incinerator could only take residual waste meant the plan would be unviable. It meant it would be handling vastly reduced waste volumes and make "the 600,000 tonne monster" economically unfeasible.

In its ruling the EPA laid down a raft of conditions.

As well as only residual waste being allowed to be incinerated at the facility, it will not be allowed to take hazardous material.

The EPA said its Office of Environmental Enforcement will monitor and enforce these conditions.

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent
Irish Independent

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