The Grand Finale – as Eithne coined it. If I had written this as part of a book, I would’ve looked at the finished piece and said it was far too unrealistic – my catchphrase, “that would never happen in real life.”
The Inspector Derek Daly outlined the schedule for the last day of the oral hearing, day seventeen – we’d begin with questions to Dr Fergal Callaghan, Indaver’s dioxin expert, then questions on the R1 formula, and finish off with closing statements.
First to put questions forward was solicitor for CHASE Joe Noonan, asking questions based on research by my dad Gordon Reid – he began by confirming with Dr Callaghan that he was the person with responsibility for appendices 6.3 and 6.4 of the EIS, Dioxin and Furan Monitoring and Dioxin Modelling Report. Joe said that Dr Callaghan had had time to look through the appendices and asked if there was anything he wanted to change. Dr Callaghan said they are submitted as is.
Joe then reaffirmed the process of putting together the report: you take measurements, you put them into the Most at Risk Individual (MARI) model, it does the calculation, and that lets you know the level of dioxins MARI is getting, which you then write up into a report. Dr Callaghan confirmed this.
The US EPA core values of risk assessment are consistency, clarity, transparency, and reasonableness. Joe asked if Dr Callaghan applied these values – Dr Callaghan said that the US guidelines and the EU guidelines differ, but when asked again, he said “yes”. Dr Callaghan added that when you’re doing dioxin risk assessment you take a “relatively high” background level and add to that the highest expected output from the incinerator.
Keeping those core values in mind, Joe said it should be possible to follow soil sampling results through attachment D (app. 6.4), and carry those modelling results into the summary table 5.1. (Attachment D is supposed to show the modelled dioxin intake from existing dioxins in the soil, based on soil samples from the site.)
He then gave the first discrepancy in the numbers: taking the soil sample figure given for one type of dioxin, and the figure that was put into the model, the latter is eight times as big.
Dr Callaghan said he wasn’t sure why the figures are different. After a pause he said the model is rounding up.
We waited in perfect silence as he looked between the two documents. We waited long enough for people to go on a toilet break. Seasons changed outside the window; days flew off the calendar.
He repeated, The model is rounding up.
Joe gave another example, and got the same answer, “it’s rounding up”. At this point Dad was frantically scribbling a note to Joe that said “he’s rounding up from 17 to 100!” – so Joe posed that as a question, and there was laughter from the people there.
The Inspector asked, “So it rounds from a two digit number to a three digit number? Is this standard?” Dr Callaghan responded that the model is being very conservative.
For another dioxin that was measured, Joe said again the sample results and what was modelled are not the same. Dr Callaghan said repeatedly he would check the tables, and reaffirmed the model was rounding up. Joe went through the same toxins, and said in every case that what the model produced and what was summarised in the appendix are not the same.
Joe went on to repeat the situation Dad had found when looking through attachment D of appendix 6.4 – which is the report of the dioxin intake of MARI. Joe explained that Dad had discovered the figures coming out in the 2016 report were not the same as in the summary table. But when Dad went to check the 2008 EIS, it was working fine, and the numbers were acting as they should. The measurements, the report and the summary all added up. Joe said that it then dawned on my dad that, “Attachment D, given in 2016, as authentication by verifiable means to show to the Board that the incinerator is safe – is identical to the model done in 2008.”
Joe asked, almost despairingly, “Dr Callaghan, how could this be?”
The audience were becoming agitated.
Dr Callaghan replied that the wrong attachment had been printed. He added that he could honestly provide clarification and it had just been an error in printing; the actual document was probably in his home or work office, he said.
During this Dad was scribbling another note to Joe to say that although the contents of the attachment were the same, the title of the document had been changed to say 2015 instead of 2008 (meaning that it wasn’t a printing error). Joe then pointed this out.
The Inspector slowly said this is a late stage in the hearing but this still presents a problem – the audience applauded. Rory Mulcahy, SC for Indaver, said that the first thing to do is seek clarification and added that Dr Callaghan would need time to put the correct information before the Board.
During this John Ahern had that usual expression on his face – very attentive, but he didn’t appear shocked or concerned at all. Dr Callaghan throughout the entire questioning was turned away from my dad and Joe, facing the Inspector. He looked distracted and on some level I have some sympathy that he could’ve been under stress or something.
The Inspector asked Joe if there were any other points he wanted to raise, to vigorous nodding from Dad, Joe, and Joe’s wife and legal partner Mary Linehan.
Joe said that attachment J from appendix 6.4 has similar discrepancies, and as he spoke Mary gave the Inspector copies of attachment J for the 2016 and 2008 Ringaskiddy EISs. (Attachment J is supposed to show the dioxin levels expected while the incinerator is operating.)
Joe continued that Dad had found that when you download attachment J in the 2008 EIS, the title sheet says “Model output file for change in PCDD/F dose associated with biomass CHP facility” and the file title is “Coll Pro Baseline”. But the numbers are exactly the same as attachment J in the 2016 Ringaskiddy EIS.
“This is an old document,” Joe continued, as Mary handed up a copy of it too. “It was last before the Board years ago, submitted by College Proteins Ltd., in their application for a biological/hazardous waste incinerator with energy recovery in Nobber, Co Meath.”
Then Joe stated, slowly and clearly, “Inspector, the last three documents Ms Linehan has given you are identical … apart from their titles.”
There was audible consternation from the audience – they were shocked.
Joe gave further examples of inconsistencies between different sets of figures, before handing the questioning over to my dad.
First thing Dad asked about was the soil sample data. Indaver took samples for dioxins measurements from two places on either side of the Martello Tower: site 3A north-east of the Tower showed twice as high values as site 4A on the south-west side, which is the one that Dr Callaghan said he’d used in the modelling.
Dad argued that Dr Callaghan should’ve been guided by conservatism and chosen the one with the higher values over the other. Dr Callaghan said it could be debated. If you have low background dioxin levels, he said, the contribution from the facility would be bigger [more noticeable] – and the same vice versa.
Dad argued firmly that it’s the total dioxin levels that matter when you’re doing risk assessment. Dr Callaghan disagreed, saying that he’s looking at the impact from the facility only and that MARI isn’t representative of the population. The Inspector initially seemed convinced by that.
So my dad urged the Inspector very firmly to take independent advice from someone who knew about risk assessment. The Inspector asked for my dad’s interpretation of appropriate risk assessment, and Dad replied that you need to report the highest levels of dioxins you can find, adding that our bodies don’t mind where the dioxins come from.
Dad also said not enough sampling sites were used. Indaver only took samples from eight sites around the Harbour – the Inspector asked how many they should’ve taken, and Dad replied that a number into the hundreds would’ve been better. Otherwise, they need to be very conservative and must work with the highest values only, if they’re to have any hope of judging accurately.
Dad also pointed out that Dr Callaghan should have reported the intake of the MARI child, as a child’s uptake of dioxins is twice that of an adult’s, and we are most sensitive to dioxins during the early stages of life – exposure to dioxins as an adult is irrelevant to that. Dr Callaghan argued that some EU studies on this had taken lifetime exposure into account. Dad asked what developmental effects were being used to define the tolerable intake; the Inspector and Dr Callaghan both asked what the relevance of that was. Dad looked at Dr Callaghan and replied, “I’m trying to assess if you know what you’re talking about.” (Dr Callaghan didn’t know the answer to that question.)
Later Dad raised questions on the diet of MARI, saying that MARI eats vegetables from their site, and meat and milk from their (single) cow, but no eggs or fish. So Dad asked, “What about fish, Dr Callaghan? What can you tell me about the effects from fish?”
Dr Callaghan replied that the levels of dioxins in fish would depend on the type of fish, as an oilier breed will collect more dioxins. Dad said it’s unreasonable to exclude something from MARI’s diet that would likely have an effect; Dr Callaghan said that the fish could’ve come from anywhere, not necessarily from the Cork Harbour area.
The Inspector asked my dad to move on with the line of questioning, and Dad said the question hadn’t been answered – adding the request to state a number to the hearing for how much of our dioxin intake we get from fish. The Inspector replied that we weren’t going to see any progress in that direction [of getting an answer]. Dad then stated the figure – 39% is the percentage of dioxins that fish bring into the Irish diet. So by leaving out fish, Dr Callaghan would get an unrealistically low estimate of dioxin intake.
Dad went on to say that the MARI model only accounts for dioxin uptake and not PCBs, which are a related substance, and asked for justification of this. Dr Callaghan replied that incinerators are not a source of PCBs. Dad replied bluntly: “The idea that PCBs aren’t coming from incinerators is only found in EISs that you’ve written.”
Dr Callaghan repeated that waste-to-energy facilities are not a source of PCBs, and that they come from other places. Dad said that Indaver don’t even monitor their emissions for PCBs; and when Dr Callaghan referenced the EU directive (which doesn’t require PCBs to be measured), Dad replied that, “You only monitor what the directive forces you to, not what causes harm.”
On a final point, Dad raised the issue of the part of the NIS that looks at impacts from dioxins on birds (also based on Dr Callaghan’s modelling); it only mentions herring gulls, which have a very high tolerance of dioxins, and not any other bird such as pheasants, which are extremely sensitive. For most protected species in the harbour, we have no idea what levels of dioxins would affect them. This is important because it could give us “reasonable doubt” about whether the incinerator would be safe for these species.
We then had a short break for Indaver to respond to the revelations of that morning’s questioning. When we returned, Rory Mulcahy spoke briefly, and in summary told us that the correct information could be provided in a short time to be analysed at the hearing. (Keep that in mind.) He added that the options were: finish the hearing as scheduled, or adjourn now for further consideration.
The Inspector replied to Mr Mulcahy that the opportunity would then be there for any party – the Board, Cork County Council, CHASE – to examine the robustness of the new data. He said the real information Dr Callaghan used to come to his conclusion should form part of the EIS. He added that how we proceed is important, and equally important is that all parties have a reasonable length of time to examine such new data.
Joe Noonan then spoke on CHASE’s behalf. He began by reminding us that this is the 50th day we’ve been sitting at an oral hearing for this application and its predecessors; 60 days if you include the EPA oral hearing. He said of the EIS, “It is the cornerstone of the entire planning system that that information is true.”
Joe said there is no need for anyone to consult any documents they have in their home or work office; the information was “reliable” in January, and five months later in May it’s found not to be.
Following the last oral hearing, Joe’s legal team and CHASE spent over a year preparing for the High Court challenge. Indaver aborted the case one day before it was to be heard. Joe said the president of the High Court judged that Indaver had abused the court process.
Joe went on to acknowledge that there is trust in the Board from CHASE, because the Board are the ultimate protector of the public, and they are there to make sure procedural rules are followed by the applicant. Therefore, he continued, this presents us with the question that adding any more documents at this stage is an abuse of the process.
“They had their opportunity – they had every opportunity – to get their information in order.”
Assessing the effects from this facility relies on the integrity of their documentation, he continued, “And without integrity, the information cannot stand to criticism, and the application crumbles … These are the options open to the Board – here, on the last day, for the last time.”
The Inspector said that we would pause for lunch and he would tell us at 2pm if the hearing would adjourn for a longer period after that for Indaver to give us the correct information, which would then be examined at the hearing, or if the hearing would continue to the schedule laid out that morning.
We waited a very tense lunch hour. There was a constant stream of people wanting to thank my dad – some people were in tears. “We’ve won,” Gertie O’Driscoll told us, “we’ve won.”
I was introduced to the secretary of RRA, and herself and Gertie insisted they buy lunch for me and my dad – I said I was far too exhausted for the bustle of the restaurant, and my dad didn’t feel he could eat much after the tension of the morning; but we would like some sandwiches.
Eithne told me the mood in the restaurant wasn’t jubilant at all, but more subdued or shocked – and perhaps confused. There was an air of cautious optimism, but a definite sense that this had changed the picture against Indaver.
When we returned at two, the Inspector said he’d given very careful consideration to the matter – he said he intended to continue with the hearing for the remaining submissions. He added that he would not accept new information at this late stage, and he would submit his report with a full account of what happened that morning.
We then had questions to John Ahern on the R1 formula – I was so tired after that morning that my notes are of a poor quality, but I’ll do my best here.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton was first to put forward questions; she began by saying that the point of incineration is the disposal of waste, not the recovery of energy. John Ahern replied that it’s both; they need to do both. Essentially, Marcia said that at Carranstown if they’re not reaching the R1 standard, it doesn’t comply with the County Development Plan. John Ahern was saying that they apply both the R1 and D10 criteria (one level below) just in case.
Marcia asked on the changes in the calorific value of waste, and Mr Ahern said it can change with people’s eating habits, with the seasons (in the summer waste will be drier, in the winter wetter), but added that they’re not governed by that; they’re governed by their EPA licence.
Marcia also questioned the description of “suitable” hazardous waste, and said that at Carranstown Indaver said the same thing in their application for the new licence.
Marcia went on to detail how Indaver applied for planning permission in Carranstown in 2001, and subsequently applied for an increase in their capacity in 2007, 2012, and 2014. Marcia asked: How much more waste do you burn since 2001? John Ahern said they wanted a bigger plant to follow the waste management plan. There was a reaction from the audience when he later said that they don’t want to do the same at Ringaskiddy, so they have applied for the maximum capacity they think they’ll need.
Marcia gave us the figures for where Indaver breached their capacity limit three times, and asked if it’s ok to work outside of your waste licence so long as you’re within your planning permission. My notes don’t detail a response from Mr Ahern – but he later compared the plant to a car, saying that the incinerator doesn’t like low capacity like a car doesn’t like a low gear.
Jody Power, lecturer at the NMCI college, then questioned Mr Ahern. Jody pointed out that their breaches of the carbon monoxide limits would’ve been as a result of incomplete combustion, so their efficiency would’ve been lower. He asked if they were fined in any way for any of that, and John Ahern said they weren’t. Jody said Indaver were then operating with impunity, and Mr Ahern disagreed. Jody repeated that they had 19 violations of the limits; Mr Ahern said they were minor ones, out of 114 measurements.
Rosie Cargin, Kinsale Environment Watch, pointed out that Indaver actually breached the limits more like 70 times; Mr Ahern replied, “Correct. 19 were in the one year.”
Marcia came back to ask about the (mysterious) climate correction factor. She said to laughter she didn’t want to bring up the argument we’d had over the number not being given to me, but asked about the source I was told: Eurostat. She said this data was from 2009, and what did Indaver do for getting more up to date data?
John Ahern said they do try to use data more recent, and they went to Met Éireann but they have a different number of degree days.
(Let me explain: to reach R1 and be defined as an “energy recovery facility”, Indaver need to export a certain amount of electricity and heat. Cold country, export heat; hot country, export electricity. Ireland is in the middle; at Carranstown they should be exporting both, but they only do electricity. The CCF lets them know how much non-exporting of heat they can get away with.
The CCF is calculated from the number of “degree days”.
“Degree days” – let’s say temperature where you don’t need extra heat is X, and it drops by Y to get to Z, the actual temperature for that day. The “degree day” for that day is Y – by how many degrees the temperature for that day fell below the no-heating level. The CCF is worked out from the sum of those “degree days” for the year.
Tell me about it, I can only just get my head around it.)
An issue also arose on whether Carranstown is in the midlands or the east of the country, as different regions would have different numbers of degree days.
Elizabeth Scandle, CHASE member and resident of Monkstown, asked John Ahern to remember that the national policy is to get away from landfill by using incineration – but which is more suitable? Both harm the environment; cars do too, she added, referencing Mr Ahern’s comparison earlier.
Mr Ahern said that cars can be bad but we need them for essential things. Elizabeth argued that you can manage without cars, and they’re not good for your health – walking or using public transport would be better.
In response to Elizabeth’s first question, Mr Ahern said Indaver is governed by policy; Irish and European policy is that incineration is used ahead of landfill.
“What colour is Ireland globally?” Elizabeth asked. After a pause, Mr Ahern replied, “Green.” Elizabeth thanked him and left.
We had a five minute break – at the end of which, with literally only seconds to spare, I gave a printed version of this blog to the Inspector and Rory Mulcahy. I wanted to give Mr Mulcahy a signed copy but didn’t have the time.
We then heard closing statements – the final stage in an oral hearing.
The first statement was from Mary O’Leary, chair of CHASE. She said that although the Inspector emphasised there be no repetition of previous statements, sometimes repetition is needed. Some issues are still of concern – the proposed site is still unsuitable; it fails the WHO criteria.
She added that the evidence presented by the objectors throughout the hearing has contributed greatly to exposing the weakness of Indaver’s evidence. She also said that there is Indaver PR behind every turn, and this is insulting to the community. She pointed out how they spent three and a half years fixing the last application, but didn’t even visit the area they wanted to build in.
Mary said that the community were shocked after that morning. “We are not chesspieces,” she added, “we are not MARI – we are real people.”
She went on to speak of what we’ve learnt – on appropriate assessment, she said we can’t be sure beyond reasonable scientific doubt that no damage will be done to wildlife. She said we’ve learnt there is no district heating system, even though it’s in the application; and Indaver have no firefighting water beyond a two hour fire. She said we still don’t know who owns the site, and asked who will take the site after sixty years: it will be left to the next generation to deal with.
On the proximity to the NMCI campus, Mary asked if the Board would consider an incinerator in the middle of UCD? That’s what this is akin to, she added.
Lastly she brought out what John Ahern said at the time of the first application. “‘Apathy will get this proposal through.’ There is no apathy in this community.”
Joe Noonan then spoke his closing statement, and he began by thanking the Inspector for this comfortable choice of venue. I second that.
Joe asked, Why are we still discussing this application? He said his answer is that sometime in the 1990’s, someone, probably in Dublin, decided that Ireland needed incineration. If that didn’t happen, the NMCI would have student accommodation, as the council didn’t allow it because they were expecting the incinerator to be built.
Joe pointed out that when asked about his assurance that the explosion at Antwerp wouldn’t happen in Ringaskiddy, Thomas Leonard, Indaver’s risk assessment expert, said that his source was Indaver. Joe went on to say that in CHASE’s objection they asked the Board to look at all the material in the application, and he acknowledged that that’s not easy to do, but the public can’t do it – they don’t have the resources.
On the sacrificial material Indaver want to put on Gobby Beach, Joe said that at the gradient it’ll slope, it would stop elderly people and children from walking along that stretch, and it would ruin the amenity of the beach. He also reminded us of how the health expert Dr Martin Hogan didn’t do a real life study into the health effects; he only did a PubMed search.
Also on the Sharma paper cited by him, which studied incinerators around the world, Joe said that Dr Hogan assumed the incinerators were in India because the authors were; “But fortunately for us, Dr Reid read the paper.” (More details in day fourteen.)
Another point made by my dad on that day was that if Dr Hogan used different search terms on PubMed he would’ve found articles detailing the negative health effects of incineration. Joe raised this, adding that his secretary Pippa was able to find several such articles by using the search terms Dad suggested.
Joe reiterated that Rodney Daunt’s request for information on day fifteen was not responded to, and added later that the reply from Rory Mulcahy to solicitor Frank Kelleher on day ten was inadequate.
On the discrepancy on the name of the applicant, Joe said that himself and CHASE raised this in their objection, but Indaver didn’t bring this up when the hearing began; it was only raised by us. He added that if the application is invalid, the hearing is to loss.
Joe received applause when he said that the Strategic Infrastructure Development division of the Board, who were involved in the pre-application consultations, should step aside for the decision process. He also said that it would be a legal mistake for the Board to request further information in relation to Dr Callaghan’s dioxin assessment, as that wouldn’t be a case of further information, but of different information.
He asked us to note that John Ahern wasn’t there for the closing statements, before finishing off by referencing Rob Bateman’s objection: “If this incinerator was proposed next to a football pitch [instead of Curlane Bank] it would’ve been rejected.”
Mamie Bowen, Monkstown, spoke next. She began by saying that this is the fourth oral hearing [incl. EPA hearing] but no proper site suitability study has been done. She said that most types of facilities would be unsuitable on this site, and reiterated that no proper health assessment had been done, just a desktop search. And lastly Mamie stated that this incinerator will negatively affect the value of local property; it will affect tourism, she added, and it is against our vision of Cork Harbour.
Nick Loughnan, Cork Environmental Alliance, read out the closing statement of Rodney Daunt on his behalf. Rodney has 35 years’ experience in control engineering, and is the manager of Daunt Instrumentation Ltd.
He wrote that it’s the electricity recovery part of the incineration process where most of the dioxins are produced, and that there is no monitoring of these dioxins. The dust monitor can’t possibly measure for mthem, and the pressure gauge couldn’t detect one little tear in the bag filters.
Rodney reiterated that there should be continuous monitoring of emissions from the stack, and that there would be an unquantified risk from there being no monitoring of temperature inversions in the Harbour. (They have measured it in the Nevada desert though.)
Nick then spoke his own closing statement. He said that his group brought environmental control to the Harbour and were instrumental in setting up the EPA. He added that the community deserve proper planning, and planning needs to take the community into account.
On the calling of Ringaskiddy and the surrounding area a “sacrificial area”, Nick asked how the people living there felt when they heard that. He then reiterated points raised about Indaver expert Fiona Patterson’s witness statement to the hearing, where she responded to the last of the WHO exclusionary criteria – on equity – by saying that no one’s unique ties to a place will be damaged.
He also criticised John Kelly’s witness statement, saying that Mr Kelly didn’t say himself the building wouldn’t be visually oppressive but instead quoted the CCC official who said so.
Nick spoke about how every building has a meaning. Cobh Cathedral means something – it has a historical meaning. He said that the meaning of the incinerator building would be that the people of Cork Harbour have no control over what gets built in it, like they didn’t a hundred years ago. “We don’t want to go back to that situation.”
Nick continued, “The people of Cork Harbour have shown the most heroic qualities in withstanding this application.” He recommended that the process go no further, and the incinerator is not offered to us again.
Seán Cronin, from Zero Waste Alliance Ireland, began by asking about the waste transfer station – will it magically reappear? He also said the site “screams unsuitability”, like when the ugly stepsisters tried to force their feet into the glass slipper. He implored the Board to reject the application, and let the people of the Harbour have their happily ever after, instead of living out a 30 year nightmare.
Kate Darragh, member of RRA and CHASE, said that Indaver failed as the site was unsuitable; she added that the incinerator would be contrary to the vision and plans for Cork Harbour, and urged the Board to reject.
Marcia D’Alton then spoke, and she said that the Martello Tower is clearly within the curtilage of Spike Island; they are protected sites separately, but unfortunately aren’t recognised together, echoing her evidence to the hearing. She added that it is her “undying aim” as a councillor to get collective recognition for the Tower and Spike.
On the issue of ecological effects, Marcia said that the incinerator would be a source of serious pollution, but the efficiency of the flue gas cleaning systems is a matter for the EPA. But the EPA licence incinerators – so who really decides on this?
She said that An Bord Pleanála is the only body that can determine Ireland’s waste policy – but if it doesn’t do this, Ireland is rudderless in stormy sea.
Marcia concluded that Indaver didn’t reckon with the resistance of the local people. She said that we’ve given up four weeks of our lives at this hearing to protect the irreplaceable Cork Harbour, but we won’t stop after the application has been refused to create our vision of the Harbour. Finishing, Marcia asked the Inspector to recommend refusal and to recognise the efforts of the community; and she asked the government to amend the Strategic Infrastructure (Planning and Development) Act 2006 so we won’t have to deal with this serial applicant ever again.
Jonathan Fleury spoke very briefly, telling us that Indaver are using smoke and mirrors to trick us into believing them, and what’s missing from their application is integrity.
Bettie Higgs, UCC lecturer in geology, said that she concurs with Jonathan and added that the statements from Indaver are not trustworthy. She said there isn’t sacrificial material that is suitable on Gobby Beach; the material will instead do “irreplaceable damage” to the beach. She reminded us that UNESCO asks all countries to protect sites of importance. She concluded that if the incinerator is accepted, recycling rates will decrease; but if rejected, it will trigger moves towards zero waste.
Joan Masson then spoke, and she began by asking us to imagine we’re in a time machine going forward 60 years to the proposed site. What will her grandchildren for example see sailing into the Harbour? A place the EPA has written off? Incinerator stacks and toxic waste everywhere, Gobby Beach disfigured, the Navy and the NMCI gone? Or will they see a bigger college, a vibrant naval service, even bigger helicopters, and healthy, happy people?
Paul Nash, from the NMCI, pointed out in his statement how Indaver say it’s a disgrace that we love to export waste, but they plan to export toxic ash to Germany. He added that we need to lead in innovation, and not tie in to old technology. He asked, Why is there no air quality monitoring in the Harbour?
He highlighted Dr Martin Hogan daring to think he is an Indaver expert, when he has ignored people. In the air modelling, Paul said the nearby wind turbine has been ignored, when the interaction between turbines and stack plumes can have detrimental effects.
Paul finished by saying that if the fight between Indaver and Ringaskiddy had been a boxing match, it would’ve been stopped in the first round.
Joe Mac Carthy then spoke, and he began by thanking everyone who took part in the hearing, including me in writing these blog posts – that got applause!
Joe continued to say that if the people speaking this morning had been under oath, would it have been different? He also said this is an issue of trust and respect; the people do not trust Indaver as Indaver do not respect them. He asked, If you can’t trust them with the small things, what about the big things?
He added that this is not Solomon’s choice; on one side are people with much to lose, and on the other is a company with much to gain.
Joe had with him the candle he set the first time he spoke at the hearing; he said that it will be passed from house to house, and anyone can request to keep it for a little while. It will be a symbol of the hope that eventually the right decision will be made, he finished.
Gertie O’Driscoll spoke next; she stated firmly that what happened this morning was “scandalous”. She said her niece, her nephew, and her brother all had cancer – can Dr Hogan explain this?
She spoke of the anxiety of having so many factories nearby, and the stress that there will be an explosion – but Dr Hogan thinks this isn’t so. Highlighting John Ahern’s saying this is an industrial zone, Gertie replied, “It is a community,”; and, referring to the evidence of that morning, she asked, “Where are your morals?”
Gertie finished by quoting Fr Sean O’Sullivan in his objection from Friday 22nd – “Dump on me once, shame on you. Dump on me twice, shame on me.”
In the first draft of this blog I wrote that Jody Power spoke and then Bill Grimson, when in fact Jody quoted Bill. At the time I was rehearsing my own statement and I had a relative taking notes, which were unclear on that.
Anyway, Jody quoted the President of Engineers Ireland, who said that the public need two things: to be informed, and to be informed by those they trust. Jody went on to ask how we can trust Indaver when they tell us that a large gas cylinder could enter the waste stream and get into the furnace, but the only consequence they mention is the furnace wall being damaged. They fail to tell us about the possible uncontrolled emissions of that.
Jody asked how we can trust them when they say that residues will be removed from the boiler on a conveyor belt and go into a silo inside the building, but they don’t explain how they’ll filter out any contamination of the building. Specifically, from substances like PCBs, dioxins, and furans, which would be so small they’d act as a gas.
How can we trust them when they say that there’ll be a “significant change in the appearance of the site” and that the cumulative impact of such developments will be negative at first, but then become more positive as the now “semi-industrial” area will become more developed and “campus-style”.
On a final point Jody said that Indaver say they’ve held public consultation days and that the application documents were informed from that feedback. Jody replied that honest feedback didn’t inform one scintilla of this application.
Jody concluded by quoting Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President and co-author of the American Constitution, who invoked the “genius of the people” in writing the Constitution. Jody asked the Inspector, in witnessing the genius of the people so vehemently, morally, and unitedly displayed over the course of the hearing, how could he allow this monster to spawn?
It was then my turn to speak. I began by introducing myself (twice) as Catriona Reid, sixteen, a Green Party rep, and then spoke about this blog – it started as a report to go around the Cork Greens, and it’s now a blog that people living abroad have depended on. I said that at the end of today’s update, I will have written over 40,000 words about this hearing – the length of a novella. “For reasons of time alone, I will not read it all into the record.”
I said that we’ve heard about 113 objections, and I highlighted how so many public representatives have objected too, and even the Defence Forces have spoken against this application.
I spoke about the evening sitting of Tuesday 26th, highlighting the two objections that stood out the most: Joe Mac Carthy’s and Sammy O’Driscoll’s. The latter led me on to say how upset I’d become at hearing so many stories of cancer rates in the Harbour and of the suffering resulting from that.
I went on to speak on the ethics of the industry, expressing how disgusted I am to see how science is being misused by the Indaver experts, before finishing with Bruce Hannah’s description of incineration as a jack-in-the-box that is ready to pop and no one knows when it will.
I honestly didn’t give myself time to write or rehearse my statement, so it was a bit all over the place, but I think it turned out okay – perhaps that made it better. I heard one of the Indaver people enjoyed it.
Dad’s statement was about competence: the EIS should be prepared by “competent experts” and Dad had set out to show that they were not.
First Dr Hogan. Dad mentioned how often Dr Hogan quoted something that seemed reassuring from an article while completely missing its point – often they said we shouldn’t build more incinerators without better research to show they are safe, the precautionary principle and so on. Dad also pointed out how Dr Hogan ignored data showing incinerators damage health (you know the YoLL story – May 3rd), and emphasised how important data is. Dad also had deep concern about Dr Porter’s data, asking for the full parameters of the model and saying how in science you can’t publish your results without saying exactly how you did the work: “that is the basis for trust in science”.
You know the courtroom drama this morning, and Dad didn’t dwell on that except to say how much work it had been to do all the research that went into it, and how, apart from the family, the energy came from thinking of the “new friends and wonderful people” most directly affected by the proposal, and not letting them down but doing everything possible to stop the incinerator (I had to read that bit, actually, as Dad was near to tears so couldn’t read it properly).
Dad explained how the dioxin modelling (Appendix 6.4) was done so as to give the lowest possible dioxin intake. When you do it in a more reasonable way, you get a really scary result – believe me, I’ve seen it, and it is really scary. Dad next got on to the Wildlife and Habitats Directive, really important because protected species get more protection that we do, and mentioned evidence that had come up during questions.
Finally Dad spoke about how we might have felt blinded by science sometimes, but that it’s simpler to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, and this is what much of the EIS does. Dad said they [EISs] are not science, and it’s no surprise, because paid consultants wrote it the way the developer wanted. Dad ended up by thanking the inspector and expressing confidence that he would recommend rejection of the application.
Mary Hurley from Cobh Action for Clean Air then read the statement on behalf of Dr Brendan Richardson form UCC. He began by explaining how incineration discourages recycling – but when incineration goes down, the latter goes up. He said that experts predict that without incineration there, recycling and composting would shoot to 80% in six months – but highlighted that sustainable outcomes post-incineration are hard to achieve.
Brendan added that waste-to-energy growing faster than recycling would impede the progress towards a circular economy – and concluded that incineration does not solve the problem of waste, it only appears to.
Seán Cronin came back to read the statement on behalf of Ian Lumley from An Taisce. Ian wrote that 20 years ago his son could sit on his lap, and this week he finished university. He said his son has grown up with the word “Indaver” meaning danger and threat.
In the time his son has completed three levels of education, Ian went on, Indaver haven’t even learnt to write a proper EIS.
He said he supports the development of maritime tourism in the Harbour, and this application is not in line with that. Ian concluded that it was a privilege to speak alongside 113 other objectors at this hearing, and thanked the Inspector for his courtesy.
We then heard the final closing statement – from Rory Mulcahy on behalf of the applicant. He said the objections can be separated into two distinct groups – those who oppose the concept of incineration, and those who oppose just this application. But crucially, he continued, Indaver have not sought to re-invent the wheel in incineration policy – they have followed it instead: waste-to-energy has been identified as a need, and we can’t disregard the hard effort put into writing policy.
I won’t comment on that.
Mr Mulcahy went on to outline why Indaver chose Cork – because it’s the biggest population outside of Dublin that wasn’t catered for already, essentially. They chose Ringaskiddy because it was the only site approved by both the EPA and CCC; he went on to acknowledge that any development like this will always garner some local opposition.
In response to the Air Corps, Mr Mulcahy said Indaver took their objection seriously, but reiterated their stance that any impacts on military operations would be “very limited indeed”. He said that given the distance from the take-off point and the stack, you can see why Comm. Savage (for Indaver) couldn’t see why the IAC would be in any difficulty avoiding the plume.
Mr Mulcahy stated that it was now up to the Inspector to decide the necessity for the raw data used by Dr Callaghan to reach his conclusions on the dioxin risk assessment, and, significantly, “decide whether the Board needs the corrected version” to complete their assessment.
(Do you remember what he said before lunch?)
On the issue of the applicant’s true identity, Mr Mulcahy said that with the evidence now having been heard, and the Board now in a position to assess the application, all that has happened should not be set at naught on the basis of a “wholly technical argument”.
In response to the reasons for refusal last time, he said that the policy has changed, the flooding has been comprehensively addressed, the coastal erosion is not a threat, and the development has reduced in scale.
I certainly didn’t like Rory at the beginning of the hearing, or on certain days throughout, but I have some level of understanding that this is his job – and at the same time I don’t.
The hearing – to applause – concluded at 7:45pm, on day seventeen. I gave a thank you card to Mary O’Leary for CHASE and to Joe.
We left the hotel to find Joe his team in a spot of trouble with their car – the battery wasn’t working. It was my idea to call round to Phil Wilson the mechanic, and when he heard they were the legal team fighting against Indaver he didn’t charge them.
Also, if you haven’t heard Joe’s interview on the Opinion Line it really is worth listening to – 1 hour into the SoundCloud podcast. He speaks about the history of the campaign and details the questioning that happened this morning. He was very kind in mentioning me, and I loved PJ’s reaction – “She’s sixteen?!”
Here follows a short ramble.
One reason why I was quite late in uploading this is that we went on a spontaneous trip to the proposed site. I have no memories of Ringaskiddy – when people said “we can’t see the sea from our houses” I didn’t fully understand what they meant. But on the road through the village, my dad told me that the curb on the far side from the houses is where the sea used to be.
There is now a wall and a line of trees – landscaping. When I realised this in full, and saw it for myself, what I said is not to be repeated here.
Bucharest is the most polluted city I know – I’m from there – and the air in the lovely green field before the Martello Tower, just for a fleeting moment, smelled exactly the same as the dusty streets of Romania’s capital. That really scared me.
There was a little man running around outside the NMCI with a drone. I don’t know how little or tall he actually is, but he was really tiny from the Indaver site.
I saw the planning application notices for myself, I saw the asbestos dump for myself, I saw the cliff erosion for myself, I saw the Tower and the ordnance stones for myself – all these topics that we’ve been in a hall discussing for four weeks, I finally saw them in real life. I only know these things from the oral hearing.
I guess all that’s left to say now is to wish everyone the best of luck moving forward, to thank in earnest everyone who has been working against this application for a decade, and we eagerly anticipate the Board’s decision on July 12th.
It has been suggested to me that I put together these reports into a book to be sold as a fundraiser for CHASE. If there is the demand for it, I would certainly look into self-publishing. And perhaps not now, but in the future, I would also consider writing about the history of this campaign – but that’s another idea. If anyone wants to bounce ideas around for that, my email is email@example.com
If you want anything archived – your submission, questions, or statement – the email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org – and the site address is: http://epu.ucc.ie/greid/ABP_Ringaskiddy/
In the printed version given to ABP and Indaver I hadn’t yet corrected the spelling of Nick Loughnan’s name. Debra Heyes has now been changed to Debby Hayes. The surname “Dwire” should read “Dwyer”. I haven’t yet looked through every post to edit it, but any other major issues to be corrected I will mention here.