For the last 20 years CHASE has shown that the Ringaskiddy site is not a suitable location for a 240,000 tonne commercial waste incinerator. This has been backed up by the 3 Inspectors who presided over the 2003, 2009 and 2016 Bord Pleanala Oral Hearings, all of whom recommended refusing permission for the application.
One of the fundamental problems with the site is the topography of the surrounding area and the resulting thermal inversions that occur in the Cork Harbour basin which trap emissions or a plume under an inversion layer and prevent its upward dispersal.
The 9 January 2021 fire at R&H Hall grainstore in Port of Cork, just down the road from the proposed incinerator site, provided real life modelling of dispersal patterns in low winds with thermal inversion in the enclosed harbour basin. This saw the plume drift around and sit in inlets and on homes and it continues to do so a day later. In similar conditions this would be the dispersal pattern for highly toxic emissions from a fire or explosion at the incinerator plant, as well as for everyday emissions on an ongoing basis.
The location of the Indaver site at the end of a cul-de-sac means the only escape route for the Maritime College, NMCI, the Naval Base and the soon to open public park occupants would be in the direction of a fire, were an explosion to occur. To stay put would leave these populations exposed to the ongoing plume in conditions similar to those seen regularly in Cork Harbour and as experienced this weekend.
Of further concern is the fact, highlighted at the 2016 Oral Hearing, that the Indaver plant is equipped only with enough water for for 2 hours firefighting, with a plan to let any fire burn out after that, which makes ongoing toxic emissions a real potential threat.(1)
Yesterdays fire at R&H Hall is under control due to the intervention of Carrigaline, Cobh, Crosshaven and Midleton fire services. It was made clear at the 2009 Oral Hearing that there is no guarantee that emergency services would enter an incident at the Indaver site.
Former Chief of Emergency Management for the HSE (Health Services Executive) South, Mr Peter Daly, presenting the possibility at the 2009 Oral Hearing of response agencies not entering an accident area, outlined how response agencies, should an incident occur, would define a “warm zone where airborne concentrations above which the general population could experience irreversible or other serious effects occur” and would consider the risk of “allowing even their own staff into that warm zone” (2)
“The R&H Hall fire made very real the possibility that should an accident occur at the proposed Indaver plant, we could be looking at a fire with a highly toxic load being left to burn out over a number of days, putting Maritime college students and staff and Naval personnel in immediate danger and enveloping the wider harbour communities in highly toxic fumes for it’s duration.
It is precisely because of it’s topography, weather patterns, proximity to communities and location in a cul-de-sac that this site is so fundamentally unsuitable for locating a commercial incinerator” said CHASE Chairperson Mary O’Leary.
- We wish to reiterate the call made by Ringaskiddy and District Residents Association for improved communications and the publication of a Harbour wide emergency plan for the area
- We will be making our increased concerns known to our public representatives on behalf of all who have objected to the Indaver proposal throughout the 20 years.
- We will also be asking the EPA to reject the emissions licence for which an application has been submitted but is not yet under active consideration.
(Above Photos, l-r Unknown; Stephanie Forde, Rodney Daunt, George Fitzgerald)
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