Tuesday 16 September 2008

National plan recommends use of cement kilns to incinerate hazardous waste

A NATIONAL Waste Management Plan, published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday, recommends the use of cement kilns to incinerate hazardous waste.

The plan, which notes the State exported almost half of its hazardous waste in 2006, also recommends landfills for dangerous substances such as asbestos.

In a twin-track approach to the problem of hazardous wastes which range from chemicals and pharmaceuticals to batteries, paints, solvents, asbestos and herbicides, the EPA also recommends a strategy to reduce the creation of such wastes.

It also encourages greater co-operation with the waste-management strategy in Northern Ireland.

In a section describing the aim of self-sufficiency in the management of hazardous waste, the plan notes that of the waste exported in 2006 “a significant proportion could be dealt with in Ireland at existing authorised facilities and in cement kilns”.

It adds that “one cement kiln operator has indicated their intention to seek authorisation to burn waste, including hazardous waste”. The strategy, which also expresses an interest in alternatives to incineration, nevertheless notes their general absence in the market place.

“While a hazardous waste incinerator is licensed to operate in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, there are no equivalent proposals on hand for hazardous waste landfill or for technologies that can provide a realistic alternative to the incineration of a wide range of hazardous wastes that are currently exported for incineration.”

The plan also recommends “a prevention programme to reduce the gross generation of hazardous waste in certain priority industrial sectors and in households . . . ”

In relation to the disposal of asbestos, the plan reveals a need for a national facility to handle asbestos waste, augmented by smaller regional facilities. The need for landfill should be kept under review.

With the easing of restrictions in UK policy for the movement of hazardous waste for disposal between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, “an all-island market for hazardous waste disposal is now possible”, said the plan.

The plan recommends that proposals for hazardous waste-disposal infrastructure, including landfills and other large-scale infrastructure such as incinerators and alternative treatment installations, should take all-island considerations into account for capacity planning purposes.

Commenting on the plan, the director general of the EPA, Dr Mary Kelly, said: “Ireland must find new ways to become self-sufficient in dealing with our hazardous waste. Whilst there has been some improvement in Ireland’s infrastructure, there is still a deficit and this Plan recommends alternative methods for the management of this waste.”

The Irish Times


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