Saturday 13 June 2009

Incinerator impact statement 'should be withdrawn'

AN ENVIRONMENTAL impact statement (EIS) submitted by the proposers of a toxic waste incinerator in Cork harbour should be withdrawn from consideration because it does not meet required standards, according to a prominent medical scientist.

Epidemiologist and professor of health systems at Dublin City University, Anthony Staines, said Indaver Ireland’s EIS report “shows little grasp” of the practical issues associated with population health surveys.

Prof Staines was asked by anti-incinerator campaigners to review the EIS with particular reference to the estimation of human health impacts and delivered his findings at An Bord Plean├íla’s oral hearing into the proposed incinerator yesterday.

The EIS, according to Dr Staines, provides no real basis from which to conclude the health impacts of the proposed incinerator.

“The writer has not done what he suggested was required, a baseline environmental analysis, followed by an estimation of the impacts of changes in this on human health. It is not possible for any reasonable person to draw any conclusions as to the health impacts of the proposed development from the EIS,” Dr Staines said.

Prof Staines, who co-authored a Health Research Board report (HRB) on the environmental effects of landfill and incineration of waste, Health and Environmental Effects of Landfilling and Incineration of Waste , said the EIS drawn up on behalf of Indaver Ireland was based wholly on secondary sources; does not take into account recent literature; includes no references for a section on dioxins; and contains no reference to potential pollutants such as cadmium and arsenic.

Prof Staines claimed that some sections of the EIS were plagiarised material, taken without reference, from his own work.

“Whole sections on health issues relating to respiratory symptoms and reproductive effects are copied, verbatim and without any attribution, from [the] HRB report. Much of the cancer section is also copied with a minor rewrite,” he said.

In his Health Research Board report, Prof Staines found that Ireland was poorly equipped to assess, monitor, and enforce human health protection and has insufficient resources to carry out “adequate risk assessments for proposed waste management facilities”. He said that although the necessary skills are available, neither the personnel nor the dedicated resources have been made available.

The professor recommended that better facilities, financial input and data banks be developed for measuring environmental damage in Ireland and he said that although some progress had been made, “the current situation is that neither the EPA, nor the local authorities, have the capacity to adequately monitor and police human health”.

The oral hearing reconvenes on Monday.

Irish Times

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