Fortnightly analysis of emissions from a proposed incinerator does not constitute “continuous monitoring”, leaving locals potentially exposed to unsafe dioxin levels, an expert in industrial process instrumentation has warned.
Rodney Daunt of Blackpool-based Daunt Instrumentation and Control said: “You cannot control that which you cannot measure and if you are not measuring, nobody is going to know and corrective action will not be taken.”
Mr Daunt was speaking on day nine of the hearing into a proposal by waste management company Indaver Ireland to build a 240,000 tonne waste-to-energy facility in Ringaskiddy.
Referring to Indaver’s environmental impact statement (EIS), which he said states that samples from the chimney stack will be analysed every two weeks, Mr Daunt said that, for “failsafe” accountability, “continuous live online measurement and control of dioxin emissions is essential”.
Dara Fitzgerald, lecturer in analytical chemistry in UCC, said that despite Indaver’s “voluminous” EIS, “there is no data to support or reassure the public of an adequate monitoring regime for the proposed incinerator”.
He called into question a paper previously presented on behalf of Indaver at the hearing, which he said showed “none of the sampling points were even within 5km of the incinerator”.
The paper, by air quality expert Edward Porter, said modelling had shown there would be “no adverse impact on public health or the environment” as a result of the incinerator.
Planning inspector Derek Daly said he would pose questions specific to air emissions later in the hearing and that Indaver would be given the chance to question Dr Fitzgerald’s claims.
Dr Fitzgerald also queried Indaver’s intention to monitor heavy metals on a regular basis, without stating the interval.
“As an expert in heavy metals I know that it is not possible to monitor metals in real time,” he said. He added that the An Bord Pleanala “must be made aware that incinerators are working to aspirational emission values”.
Una Chambers, spokeswoman for the Carrigaline branch Chase (Cork Harbour Area for a Safe Environment) said monitoring is “not preventative, merely historical record of what has occurred”.
Professor of Analytical Chemistry at UCC, Jeremy Glennon, quoted from several research papers on the dangers of dioxins, including that they are known carcinogens which can take up to 11 years to break down in humans.
Children exposed before birth to dioxins were reported to display hormonal and developmental changes and possible neurobehavioural effects (learning difficulties), Prof Glennon said.
Colin Bradley, professor of General Practice at UCC and a part-time GP in Cobh, said he and several colleagues had concerns regarding the effect of proposed incineration on the health and wellbeing of the people of Cobh.
He said the coastal town “already has its share of health problems” including respiratory, musculosketal problems and impairments of hearing related to working in previous industries such as Irish Steel, Verolme Dockyard, and IFI chemicals.
“While a link to cancers is disputed, it remains a fact that the incidence of certain cancers is higher in Cobh,” Prof Bradley said.
Indaver points out that, in 2011, the National Cancer Registry said that while the risks of some cancers in Cobh “are above average, the risk of many others is below average”. The registry said “selective reporting of the high rates only serves to cause unnecessary worry to residents”.
The hearing continues.
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