EDIT 07/16: – Apologies if you read this in April and only half of the text appeared; I discovered the problem just recently and the rest of the text has now been uploaded.
My first day being the Green Party representative to the Board! I was dashing into the hotel while Dad parked the car so I didn’t lose my seat at the table to a TD. We were expecting objections from all the TDs of Cork South-Central and local councilors too; before proceedings began the Inspector, Derek Daly, let us know that they weren’t coming.
The floor was handed to Dr Jarvis Good of the Department of the Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht. He was recommending a condition to amend the sampling from the livers of fish in the area to check for PCDDs/PCDFs. Instead of taking samples from “in the area north of Ringaskiddy” he recommended that that be changed to “from the Monkstown Creek”.
Matters then turned to the issue of Indaver transporting bottom ash to the Bottlehill landfill site. The Inspector said that overall clarification was needed on the issue. It is his understanding that waste generated on the site is not retained on the site; it is moved elsewhere to be disposed of or reused. He requested clarification on whether it is decided where the ash will go or if that has yet to be defined.
Rory Mulcahy, senior counsel for Indaver, referred to the EIS, adding that if no use can be found for the ash produced, then yes, it would be sent to a landfill site licensed to take bottom ash – but that doesn’t exclusively mean Bottlehill.
Later Cllr Marcia D’Alton asked whose area of expertise it is to deal with the effects on wildlife in the area. Dr Good referred her to the EIS and NIS (Natura Impact Statement) by Indaver, and also to the EPA.
Marcia then asked, “What happens if adverse effects [on wildlife] are detected?” The reply was that there must be a fault with the incinerator, as under normal circumstances that wouldn’t happen – and it’s a matter for the EPA.
Attentions then turned back to Bottlehill. Chris Ramsden of the Monkstown branch of CHASE asked what the status of bottom ash is. It is believed to be toxic, so what is it doing being landfilled, when the USEPA have said that landfills have a tendency to leak after many years? The basic answer was reiterated: bottom ash will only be sent to licensed landfills.
The next topic was that of heavy good vehicles (HGVs). A condition was proposed by a CCC official, Peter O’Donogue, to be added to the Mobility Management Plan (MMP), that the R613 (Carrigaline-Coolmore-Ringaskiddy) road shouldn’t cater for HGVs. He said the road is too small and completely unsuitable as it is a small, misaligned country road.
We then had a presentation from Conal Courtney of CCC, looking into tidal flooding of the access road to the site (L2545), a proposed review of the design of the stormwater drainage system on the road, and a suggested condition that Indaver accommodate the costs involved in an upgrade of the outfall pipe and flap valve, instead of introducing an alternative.
Former TD for Cork South-Central Jerry Buttimer stood to ask Rory Mulcahy how it would be possible to avoid HGVs going through Ringaskiddy, if they could only drive at off peak times and not at night? And if a booking system was in operation, as is in Carranstown, what if trucks arrived early? Would they not be queuing outside the plant?
Mr Mulcahy replied that trucks simply are not allowed to arrive before 8am. He added later that they have no experience of a build up of HGVs at their Meath plant.
Various other concerns were raised in relation to routes that heavy goods vehicles would take. If they went past Shanbally school, the emissions from the trucks would pose a risk to children; the high levels of noise may disrupt teaching. HGVs may well block the roundabout outside the school. Would HGVs pass through the Jack Lynch Tunnel?
Lorna Bogue of the Green Party asked CCC if a pedestrian crossing could be provided across the N28 in Ringaskiddy. First they gave an answer for Shanbally, and when Marcia D’Alton repeated the question part of the answer was, “We believe there already is one in Ringaskiddy.” Those present responded by shaking their heads.
After a tea break, a CCC engineer spoke on Indaver’s proposal to upgrade the L2545. There were further discussions relating to the issue.
Before the lunch break, Mary McCaffrey, of Cobh Action for Clean Air, put in her objection. She spoke of how she wasn’t opposed to incineration 16 years ago, before she learned about the health risks. “What goes up,” she said, referring to fly ash and microparticles, “must come down [in the rain].” She referenced a WHO figure that stated that 80% of cancers are now due to environmental impacts.
She said the unborn child is the most vulnerable: exposure to these pollutants in the womb makes it more likely that the child will develop cancer later.
Mary called on the Minister for the Environment to outline the research he had done into the health implications of nearby incineration before forcing CCC to change their county development plan. She asked if he had considered the costs to the taxpayer for cancer treatment, and if he accepted that the people of Cork living in the area would become unnecessarily ill.
In Denmark, the country renowned for high levels of incineration, they are now beginning to phase it out. Why isn’t our Minister doing the same? she asked.
Mary concluded to a round of applause, before the hearing paused for lunch.
I tried out the hotel restaurant for a change from take-aways. Potato and leek soup with bread sourced locally. €4.95 altogether and a generous tip.
After lunch we heard the submission from solicitor Joe Noonan on behalf of CHASE. He began by telling us about the alliance, while painting a lovely picture of the positive developments around Cork Harbour they are fighting so hard to protect.
He then examined the real identity of the applicant, concluding that Indaver Ireland is not a legal person and has no right to make a valid planning application. He called on the Board to terminate the hearing.
He scrutinised Indaver’s site selection process and the suitability of the site. When he spoke on health, he said the Board should be required to “approach the issue of human health with at least as rigorous a standard as it would apply to protected species of the nearby nature site.”
On the issue of rights of way, Joe mentioned the path going from the Martello Tower to Gobby Beach. He said this is a public right of way since time immemorial. (I believe time immemorial is a year sometime in the 1100’s.) He told us that Indaver’s plans are to move the path to a location outside the site perimeters, which will fall into the sea not long from now. “That is one way of extinguishing a right of way.”
On the question on why there is no residential accommodation at the National Maritime College, we were told that planning permission was refused because the Council were anticipating the application from Indaver to build an incinerator across the road.
“Inspector, if there is reasonable doubt in your mind on a significant point, please give the benefit of the doubt to the community,” Joe said in conclusion, to much clapping from the audience.
We had another tea break, and afterwards Shane Bennett, an expert hydrogeologist, gave his submission to the hearing. He began by explaining briefly the difference between two different types of cliff erosion: slumping, where chunks from he top of the cliff fall down after very heavy rainfall; and hydraulic, where wave action from the sea eats away at the foot of the cliff.
He stated that adding shingle to Gobby Beach would only assist in mitigating hydraulic erosion. He then asked, Where is all this shingle coming from? – eighty trucks a day is an awful lot to be carrying in.
Shane said that groundwater flooding had been completely ignored, and observed that when the site floods it looks like a Ringaskiddy Lake.
He told a story from Indaver’s Carranstown incinerator, where a situation led to their having to reapply for the licence; their capacity was increased by 10% under the new licence, which meant more trucks coming into the site, and the trucks being allowed to drive anywhere at any time they wanted. Shane said the Carranstown example is disturbing.
He referenced a USEPA study done over two decades, which found that there were 156 deaths resulting from fires or explosions at multiple incinerators. He explained that to burn waste you need fuel to set it alight, and you need somewhere to store that fuel, and in Ringaskiddy it would be right next to an ESB substation. What if there’s a fault with the ESB station, and we have a fire? What if the incinerator stack fell on the oil tanks?
Just before the hearing adjourned, Vivian Prout of RRA asked if there was an emergency plan put in place by the County Council, and if it could be made available for the residents of Ringaskiddy to turn to in the event of a fire at the incinerator. The answer is yes; it’s on the CCC website.
Tomorrow we will hear from Ringaskiddy members of CHASE, and the hearing will adjourn early. On Monday I believe CHASE’s experts will begin speaking.