Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE) and allies protested yesterday in Ringaskiddy about Indaver’s plans to build a hazardous waste incinerator.
Writes Katie Marah
They were also joined by staff and students of the National Marine College and Cllrs. Marcia Dalton and Seamus McGrath.
Indaver Ireland announced their plans in December 2015 to build a 240,000 hazardous and non-hazardous waste incinerator in Ringaskiddy. The site proposed will harm many educational facilities and businesses nearby including the Beaufort Research Centre, the National Maritime College, the IMERC research facility and the Naval Service Base located on nearby Haulbowline Island.
Many politicians have spoken out about this controversy already including Minister Simon Coveney, Fine Gael, and Michael McGrath, spokesman of finance for Fianna Fail. The Minister of the Marine openly acknowledged his disapproval for the plans in a meeting with local stakeholders in May last year.
Minister Coveney has also expressed his concern about the possible withdrawal of funding for his €1 billion project to refurbish Ringaskiddy and its surrounding areas. The plans could endanger hundreds of millions of euro needed. This project includes building a national tourist centre for Spike Island, funding an international maritime project on Haulbowline Island and the expansion of the cruise-line terminal.
Michael McGrath has also spoken out in the past, accusing Indaver of “bullying the community” and has stated that it is “an affront to democracy”.
Indaver’s plans include bringing waste from 9 counties to the proposed plant in Ringaskiddy. This has also alerted residents as they worry about the damage to the harbour.
Fr Sean O’Sullivan, a priest of the harbour parishes, has spoken out via The Harbour, a weekly newsletter, expressing his concern about damage to the harbour and its surrounding environment. He has urged parishioners to take a stand.
Indaver’s planning application has come after approval was given to Cork Port to build a container port at Ringaskiddy.
Local residents are concerned that waste from abroad will be imported to Ringaskiddy. When asked, Indaver have dismissed these claims.
On CHASE’s website (http://www.chasecorkharbour.com) they have set out their aims:
- To prevent a toxic waste incinerator being built in Cork Harbour.
- To promote awareness of alternative solutions.
- To increase national and local opposition to incinerators.
- To actively promote non-burn solutions.
CHASE, founded in October 2001, has several groups that represent them at local level in Carrigaline, Cobh, Cork, Crosshaven, Douglas, Kinsale, Midleton, Monkstown/Passage/Glenbrook, Ringaskiddy and Youghal.
According to CHASE, their current campaign is that:
- International guidelines (World Health Organisation) have indicated that the site in Ringaskiddy is unsuitable for its intended purpose.
- Health studies suggest dioxin, heavy metals and other matters emitted from incinerators are a danger to public health.
- International and national waste management policies envisage incineration as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted.
Concerns have also been raised after a fire broke out in one of Indaver’s facilities in Antwerp, Belgium on the 26th of February. All 117 of their workers were evacuated safely, according to Indaver’s website, and nobody was hurt. Firefighters however told residents to keep their windows and doors closed.
Local residents have raised concerns that something similar could happen in Ringaskiddy and as the site is close to several educational places, could block evacuation routes. The cause and the nature of the blast is unknown but Indaver have said that the people running the Belgian plant will also be running the Ringaskiddy plant.
The Indaver situation has been going on for several years, stretching back to December 2000 when Invader bought the previous Irish Ispat site in Ringaskiddy for an undisclosed sum. They unveiled their plans in April 2001. CHASE was set up in October that year to oppose their plans. In the past 15 years, there have been several court cases, hearings, planning permission applications, appeals and controversy. Indaver were finally denied in 2011 because of:
- Overdevelopment of the site.
- Flood risk on the approach road.
- Concern about coastal erosion around the site.
- Incompatibility with the regional or county waste management strategies
With less than one week left to lodge objections, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.