The Inspector passed me in the hall the other day, and nodding to the rain outside the window said, “If this is supposed to be a heatwave then I don’t want to know what the next one’s going to be like.”
The whole of Tuesday 10th was for questions on infrastructure generally – including traffic management, HGV movement management, surface water drainage, fire safety, and other related issues.
Patricia O’Sullivan, planning consultant for CHASE, asked if Indaver have issued a traffic movement model, and the reply from John McCarthy, Indaver expert on the design for surface water drainage, was that there isn’t a particular model evaluating that. Patricia asked if there’s a document of some description looking at this, and Mr McCarthy replied that there isn’t. He said however there is a drawing of the site which may help, which he then described, and I believe we later saw it on the screen. Patricia asked that a copy of it be circulated.
A question was raised on the field west of the site – is that the site that would be raised? Conor Jones, manager of Indaver’s Meath facility, said that that is the land which will facilitate construction workers, and it is the one to be raised. In the future, he continued, that field will be used to facilitate people there for site maintenance, calling it a “construction compound”.
In fact this is where the waste transfer station (WTS) used to be in previous applications, and the proposed alteration to the field this time mirrors the foundation for the previous WTSs.
Solicitor for CHASE Joe Noonan pointed out that this field used to be the location of the WTS, and asked Mr Jones what changed that they now don’t want one. Mr Jones replied that it changed in the process of preparing the application. Joe asked when this was, and Mr Jones estimated a year ago.
Joe then quoted from the public document on the table which records the pre-application consultation Indaver had with An Bord Pleanála. One document dated 3rd March 2015 indicated the WTS was still on the table in March last year. Another dated 16th July 2015 was an update from Indaver on the status of the application, where they said the WTS had now been removed to simplify the development, but it could be added back sometime in the future. A final document showed the WTS hadn’t been forgotten about in September of last year.
Indaver’s legal team were looking exceptionally panicked.
Paul Nash, from NMCI, put the question to Indaver: what happens to the water used to cool bottom ash? Managing director John Ahern answered that the water stays with the ash and is transported to a landfill. Paul asked if it’s akin to a sludge, and Mr Ahern replied that it’s more like sand.
Patricia O’Sullivan asked if noise impact from construction at the western field had been estimated, or only from the main plant; we’re awaiting a reply from the relevant expert on that point.
John Masson, retired veterinary surgeon, asked if any research or consideration had been given to migrating birds. He gave the example of when the wind turbines were being considered, they had a viewing platform for two years to assess the possible impact on birds. Rory Mulcahy, senior counsel for Indaver, replied that they had provided a full and comprehensive NIS (Natura Impact Statement).
Mark Elmes asked if it was known that filters from the stack would be transported to a salt mine in Northern Ireland. Conor Jones, manager of the Meath facility, replied that it’s not filters that will be moved, it’s the flue gas residue. Detailing further, he said it will be transported in sealed vehicles, as it is currently from Carranstown, to Germany, but they would consider another mine in Carrigfergus, Northern Ireland.
After a break Bettie Higgs asked if Indaver had taken sound inversion into account, but my notes don’t detail an answer.
John McCarthy then showed us a map of the site on the screen and talked us through what the waste delivery trucks would be doing. Patricia O’Sullivan asked if they reverse into the tipping hall, and we were told they don’t; she also asked how many trucks would fit in there at once; Conor Jones replied that the practical limit it three but more are able to fit in there.
Conversations soon turned back to what the response would be in the event of a fire, with Mamie Bowen asking that data be collected on the explosion at Indaver’s Belgium facility so that a comparison could be done with Ringaskiddy. Conor Jones replied that the event of a fully development bunker fire is outlined by their risk assessment expert Tomas Leonard, and added that they have enough firewater capacity for a two hour fire.
Mamie requested figures for a six hour fire; Mr Jones replied that their basis for considering a two hour fire is that it would be put out by then; Mamie argued that there must be figures somewhere for a six hour fire. Conor Jones replied, and I quote this almost verbatim, that in reality they do not have six hours’ worth of firefighting water. The audience didn’t approve.
Derry Chambers, Cork Environmental Alliance, asked if there were any figures for the amount of water to be used on a fire that wasn’t a bunker fire. I don’t have an answer written down. Later, speaking on where the contaminated water would go, he gave us the example of the Hickson’s fire in the 90’s, where the only place for the water was in the Harbour. It was suggested that the bunker could be used as an auxiliary storage tank for the water.
Rosie Cargin summed things up: if an explosion can happen at Antwerp, it can happen at Ringaskiddy.
Thomas Leonard later explained the differences between the Antwerp and Ringaskiddy facilities: in Antwerp they pre-heat certain types of waste (that’s what lead to the fire), which would not be done here, and they also accept different types of waste.
Joe Noonan asked Mr Leonard if he’d been asked to carry out a report similar to the HAZID report on the proposed facility which included a waste transfer station. Mr Leonard replied that he did for the last application, and Joe asked if it had been asked of him since then [during pre-application consultation]. Mr Leonard said someone else was asked to do it, not him.
Joe then read a press release from Indaver Belgium’s website which detailed what had happened at Antwerp. The statement says the waste began to overheat during the pre-heating phase, which lead to rapid spontaneous decomposition of the waste, leading to gas production and an increase in pressure – and then the explosion. At the end the press release says the emergency services “did not measure any hazardous concentrations at ground level.”
Bettie Higgs asked if the explosion was an expected event, and John Ahern replied that it was an accident, and Bettie stated, without further comment from Mr Ahern, that it can then happen anywhere.
Sue Walsh then asked about how firetrucks would get around the site. Mr Ahern said the fire services requested a road dedicated to firetrucks in the last application, and that there is one now. John McCarthy showed us a map of the site, and highlighted where the firetruck road will be – it’s touching the eastern side of the tipping hall.
My dad Gordon Reid brought up the quote from the press release – that the Belgian emergency services didn’t measure anything hazardous on the scene of the fire. Dad asked if they even attempted to, and if they did, did they know what to look for? The reply was that it was an Indaver Belgium press release and they [Indaver Ireland] don’t know any details.
We’d been told earlier in the day the fire assembly point on the site is the car park – and Patricia pointed out that to reach the car park, staff would have to cross the road leading into the site, where the emergency services would be entering. Conor Jones replied that the staff would be stationary.
Just before leaving Dad requested that after lunch I be given two pieces of information we needed to accurately reproduce the R1 formula: the “degree days” value that is used to get the climate correction factor (CCF) and the source of the meteorological data needed to calculate the degree days value.
Rory Mulcahy said it wasn’t a problem to give the figure, and Conor Jones said it would be provided after lunch. Dad couldn’t resist but add that it would’ve been courteous to provide it when it was first requested, and Mr Mulcahy muttered that he was being courteous.
Mamie again bought me lunch, bless her, and we returned to the hearing at half two to Mr Mulcahy reading just the climate correction factor into the record; he didn’t tell us the meteorological data used to calculate it. I was also not given the information, as Mr Mulcahy borrowed it back to read into the record and didn’t return it.
Seán Cronin, Zero Waste Ireland, asked what happens when a truck arrives at the facility too early. Conor Jones said that at Meath they just make them wait.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton later asked if one of the Indaver team had done an assessment of the psychological impact of trucks going through the tiny Ringaskiddy village, the noise impact on schools, or the odour impact if the truck was stuck in traffic.
Silence. Rory Mulcahy asked Marcia to accept this wasn’t a question for Niall Harte, their expert on traffic and transportation. Marcia asked again if any of the team could answer, and after a pause, Mr Mulcahy very quietly said that they’d look into it.
Gertie O’Driscoll asked if it had been considered what would happen if a truck broke down on the last stretch of the proposed M28 motorway, which is a single carriage way in both directions. Niall Harte said the road hadn’t yet received planning permission, and that they’re basing their plans on it not being built.
Bettie Higgs then began her questioning to Joanna O’Brien, Indaver’s expert on soils, hydrology, geology, and hydrogeology. The questioning focused on complex geology and inconsistencies in the different assessments by the relevant experts. For example one expert says the area is not permeable to water, but another says the coastal erosion is happening through water seeping into the boulder clay of the cliff – they can’t both be right.
When the question of the shingle to be used to fill in the coastal erosion came up, Fiona Patterson from ARUP said the beach would only be closed for three weeks while they were putting the shingle there – but it would happen periodically.
Bettie also stated the shingle to be used and the shingle already on the beach are completely different, adding later that this will change the nature of the beach. She pointed out too that even if the ash went to a licensed landfill, they do leak eventually.
It was pointed out to me the unfairness of the situation the experts opposite the floor from Indaver are in – they’re told not to be technical, but the Indaver experts are anyway. The only way to argue with them is to be highly technical.
To applause, Rosie said that an outsider would think Indaver owned Gobby Beach, and asked what legislation gives Indaver the right to take the beach away from the people for three weeks.
Shane Bennett then showed us pictures on the screen of the site flooding following exceptionally heavy rain, describing the water as “flowing out in profusion”. He said that to say the site doesn’t suffer from groundwater flooding is a falsehood. The day rounded up soon after that.
Schedule looking ahead:
Thursday will be for questions on air quality and ecology, and either on Thursday or the next day we’re sitting we’ll have questioning on cultural heritage. I’m not sure when we’ll cover coastal erosion, but I do know we’re discussing dioxins and MARI modelling on Monday. My dad will be questioning both of the experts on air quality and dioxins, and Rodney Daunt will also be questioning the former. Looking ahead, probably to next week, we will have closing statements.
As a reminder, if you want your objection archived do send it to email@example.com – or give a physical copy to me if it’s written longhand.