THE CONSTRUCTION of the Poolbeg incinerator will be fundamental to the development of a competitively priced heating system for Dublin, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing heard yesterday.
Similar heating systems are currently in place in Copenhagen, Paris and Sheffield, the hearing heard.
The council is currently seeking a waste licence from the EPA to run the incinerator, having last year been granted planning permission for the facility by An Bord Pleanála. The hearing on the EPA proposal to grant the licence began in Dublin on Monday.
The plant, which will be Dublin's first municipal waste incinerator and one of the largest in Europe, would have the capacity to burn 600,000 tonnes of waste annually. The council hopes to have the incinerator in operation by 2012.
Speaking at the hearing, Olivier Gaillot of RPS Consulting, the company developing the heating system, said the Poolbeg facility would be a "vital provider of heat", which he believes will help to reduce Dublin's reliance on imported fuels.
Mr Gaillot said using the cooling water from the proposed incineration facility for this purpose would also reduce the amount of such water to be released into the river Liffey from the Poolbeg plant.
He said RPS will be developing a gas boiler system close to the incinerator site to power the system while the waste plant is being constructed and that if Poolbeg were not to be given a licence they would look elsewhere for heating sources.
He said the heating system would be capable of tapping into sources other than the cooling water from Poolbeg and he hoped the system would feed into and serve significant developments anticipated for the Dublin Docklands area.
Concerns about the incinerator and proposals to burn sewage from the neighbouring waste water treatment plant in Ringsend were also expressed at the hearing.
On Monday, the hearing was told that up to 80,000 tonnes of sewage and non-hazardous industrial sludge could be processed at the incinerator under the terms of the waste licence being sought by the council.
Joe McCarthy, who lives less than one kilometre from the Poolbeg site, said he feared burning sludge would put extra pressure on the plant. He questioned if it would lead to the incinerator exceeding the 600,000 tonnes of waste it can burn annually. He also expressed fears over the amount of money being spent on the plant.
He said a similar facility in Amsterdam cost some €400 million, compared to the €266 million being spent on the Dublin plant. He said: "How can we get similar efficiencies for only two-thirds of the cost?"
Poolbeg designer Claus Nordgaard attributed the difference to the facility being a more "cost effective design".
The Irish Times