THE senior planner chairing the An Bord Pleanala hearing into Indaver’s proposed €160m incinerator for Ringaskiddy has expressed concern about the accuracy of scientific data supplied by Indaver in support of its planning application.
At the same hearing, a Naval spokesperson said that, in the event of an evacuation of the area, the only route open to Haulbowline staff would be towards the hazard itself.
Derek Daly said that it was essential in making any assessment on the planning application that information provided by Indaver was capable of robust scrutiny and it appeared that there was some error in data supplied regarding projected dioxin levels from the proposed facility.
Mr Daly’s attention was drawn to the discrepancy in Indaver’s data on dioxin levels for the Ringaskiddy site by Dr Gordon Reid, a member of the Green Party and a senior lecturer in physiology at UCC.
Dr Reid questioned the dioxin figures submitted by Indaver in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of its planning application for the 240,000 tonne facility.
He pointed out that dioxin tables which purport to be modelled using 2015 soil samples from the vicinity of the proposed incinerator at Ringaskidddy are identical to dioxin tables submitted with Indaver’s 2008 planning application for an incinerator at the same site.
Dr Reid also pointed out that the dioxin tables, purporting to be modelled using 2015 soil samples from Ringaskiddy, are also the same dioxin tables submitted by a rendering company, College Proteins, in its 2008 planning application for an incinerator at Nobber in Co Meath.
The EIS and appendix submissions on dioxin were prepared for Indaver by Fr Fergal Callaghan of AWN Consulting and when questioned by solicitor, Joe Noonan for Cork Harbour for a Safe Environment (CHASE), Dr Callaghan conceded there was an error.
‘I guess I can only assume that perhaps the wrong appendix was printed,’ said Dr Callaghan, who also worked on Indaver’s 2008 planning application for an incinerator at Ringaskiddy, and College Proteins’ planning application for the Nobber incinerator.
Mr Daly responded by saying that ‘the veracity of the documentation is obviously being questioned. There appears to be some form of error’, before adjourning the hearing briefly to consider the matter and then deciding to proceed with hearing closing submissions from both sides.
Mr Daly said that he would bring the matter to the attention of the board and would make a recommendation to them accordingly with his decision on whether to grant planning permission or not, on July 12th.
After the hearing, an Indaver spokeswoman confirmed the company was satisfied that the dioxin levels submitted in the EIS were modelled on soil samples taken from Ringaskidddy in 2015 but were awaiting further clarification from Dr Callaghan on the appendix dioxin level figures.
Earlier, the Dept of Defence had expressed concern that, in the event of any accident at the site of the proposed incinerator site that required the evacuation of up to 1,000 Naval Service personnel from Haulbowline, they would have to travel towards the hazard, rather than away from it.
Comdt David Browne of the Air Corps said that Indaver, in a response to an earlier submission from the Dept of Defence, appeared to be avoiding the kernel of the issue when it said ‘there are no scenarios for which the evacuation of Haulbowline would be required’.
He pointed out that in the event of an accident at the proposed facility, where the area becomes hazardous, ‘the sole route of travel for the 1,000 personnel who work on the Naval Base, including approximately 200 who live there, would be towards the hazard.’
It was of paramount importance the Naval Base would remain operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week and if egress from the base was not possible for even a short period of time due to some hazard, it would have a serious impact on Naval operations.
The Naval Service Diving Team are on call 24/7 for searches for missing persons and must have egress by road from the base at all times so that they can fulfil their operational duties, he said.
Comdt Browne said the fact that the proposed site has not been categorised as a SEVESO site – a European Commission designation for major accident hazard sites – doesn’t mean that there is zero risk of a possible need for evacuation from the vicinity of the plant.
‘Indaver themselves have identified this very scenario in (one of its) statements on Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment when it is stated that a major leak from the ammonia tank would require people in the vicinity to either take shelter or evacuate the area.