A hazardous waste incinerator planned for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour could help clean up the waste legacy of contaminated materials left at the former Irish Steel plant on nearby Haulbowline Island, it was claimed yesterday.
Indaver Ireland managing director John Ahern told the second day of the An Bord Pleanála hearing into the proposed incinerator that the facility offered not just the opportunity to deal with the region's growing municipal and industrial waste but also contaminated material from Haulbowline.
"Haulbowline Island has contaminated soils and sludges ... our facility offers a solution. With Indaver up and running in the area, this problem can be resolved - safely, efficiently and at an affordable cost, thus ending what has been a prolonged hangover for the locality," he said.
Mr Ahern said that as Ireland's waste mountain continues to grow, the disposal options for treating this waste are narrowing and Cork, like every region in Europe, must reduce its dependence on landfill or face millions of euro in punitive fines.
Meanwhile Cork and Ireland need security of energy supplies and while many options are available, the most obvious is waste-to-energy which is far more beneficial economically than either burying waste in landfill or exporting it for treatment, he said.
"For example, hazardous waste from the Cork region supplies the base load energy source for Hamburg's extensive district heating system. This effectively subsidises hot water and heating for the residents and industries of Hamburg," he said.
Mr Ahern said that Indaver has over 20 years experience operating waste-to-energy facilities in Flanders where it was founded by the Flemish government in partnership with local industry and the company plans to replicate a similar approach to waste management here.
Indaver Ireland project and commercial director Jackie Keaney said the Ringaskiddy project was in line with both EU and Irish objectives to maximise the recovery of energy from residual waste and generating renewable energy from biomass in the waste.
Installing a combined heat and power plant will also contribute to Ireland meeting renewable heating targets and it will also contribute to security of energy supply goals by generating from a local resource that provides an alternative to fossil fuels, she said.
"The Ringaskiddy facility can accept a range of biodegradable wastes that would otherwise be sent to landfill, These include for example, treated residuets and refuse derived fuel from Mechanical Biological Treatment, sludges and organic wastes from industry," she said
Ms Keaney pointed out the proposed incinerator is line with National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2008-2012 which recommends a move towards self sufficiency and notes that dedicated incineration provides flexibility in the management of residual hazardous waste.
The plan determines that if its preferred strategy of dealing with waste, including prevention, recycling and a waste-to-energy facility is achieved, then a minimum of 50,000 tonnes of hazardous waste will need thermal treatment in a waste-to-energy facility in Ireland by 2016.
"At present, the Ringaskiddy facility is the only waste-to-energy facility in the planning process that can accept the 50,000 tonnes per annum identified by the EPA as requiring thermal treatment in Ireland," she said.