Wednesday 23 April 2008

Doctor says incinerator's effects on health not known

AN "ADEQUATE" study into the effects of the proposed incinerator at Poolbeg on human health should be carried out before a licence is granted to the facility, an Environmental Protection Agency oral hearing has been told.

Prof Anthony Staines, a lecturer in epidemiology at Dublin City University, said the environmental impact statement carried out for Dublin City Council did not sufficiently "provide the basis of a reasonable judgment" on potential effects of the incinerator on people living nearby.

He said a health impact assessment (HIA) was necessary to determine if such a complex would be harmful to human health with respect to air pollution. He said this was particularly necessary as the plant was to be located in an area where some residents had poorer health compared to those in other parts of the city, due to social and historical reasons.

Prof Staines, a medical doctor and academic, said it was "at best careless, and more realistically reckless, to proceed with a major development without considering methods of minimising harm and maximising benefits to the local community" and said the execution of a HIA on such projects was common practice internationally.

Prof Staines said a HIA could cost up to €500,000 and would take some 18 months to complete.

In relation to the environmental impact statement, undertaken by Arup Consulting Engineers on behalf of the council, Prof Staines claimed that "in no case is there any serious consideration of the actual impacts of the estimated emissions on people in the local community or on human health".

Bill Shipsey SC, for the council, responded that a health impact statement was not required by law, while Ria Lyden, a chartered engineer with Arup, said the environmental impact statement found the facility would not significantly impact the environment and "no residual negative impacts are anticipated" from the construction or operation of the plant.

Dublin City Council is seeking a waste licence from the EPA to run the incinerator, which was approved by An Bord Pleanála.

Irish Times

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