Waste management company Indaver is in talks with Cork County Council to bury, in a mothballed landfill site, up to 40,000 tonnes of ash yearly from a proposed €160m controversial incinerator project in Ringaskiddy.
Indaver Ireland’s managing director John Ahern and a senior county council official confirmed talks are continuing over the likely use of a landfill site at Bottlehill.
The unused landfill site, 20km north of Cork city, cost the council €48m to complete. The 100-hectare site has an Environmental Protection Agency licence for five million tonnes of waste over its lifetime. The first built phase has 6.5 acres of landfill cells.
The local authority had planned to utilise the site from 2010, but a surplus of landfill amenities in the country made it uneconomical. Last June, the council sought expressions of interest from the private sector for possible projects at Bottlehill.
It is currently in discussion with two companies, one of which is Indaver. Some pits have been opened at the site, which could deal with 660,000 tonnes of waste in the immediate to mid–term future. It has capacity for 5.4m tonnes.
Mr Ahern said only non-hazardous ash would be buried at the site. He said it was hoped in the longer term to treat the ash, most of which could be used for road construction. However, despite treatment, remaining residues would be buried. He said Indaver had also examined locating an incinerator in Bottlehill.
However, the company decided Ringaskiddy was a better option as it could sell off heat generated by it to industries and households in the lower harbour area.
Mr Ahern said Indaver would not be using Bottlehill for the disposal of a further 40,000 tonnes of non- hazardous ash generated yearly at its incinerator in Co Meath, as the waste is deposited in landfills in Leinster and Monaghan.
He plans to conclude talks with the council “as soon as possible” and said Indaver would be happy to be the sole tenant on the site, or share it with a compatible project.
“Eleven tonnes of hazardous ash would be produced at Ringaskiddy, the same as in Co Meath. At the moment we export this residue to Germany where it us used as backfill in salt mines,” he said.
When the local authority initially sought expressions of interest for the Bottlehill site, officials had suggested it could become a renewable energy ecopark with wind turbines and food digesters that would generate power for the national grid.
Meanwhile, Sharon Corcoran, head of the council’s environment directorate, said members of her team were “currently in discussion with Indaver”.
However, she said given the commercial sensitivity around the project, she was “not yet at liberty to disclose the subject matter”.
Maintenance of the Bottlehill site, despite never being used, costs Cork Co Council €200,000 a year to comply with EPA legislation.
With huge opposition in Cork harbour’s towns and villages, Bord Pleanála is to due to begin an oral hearing into the Ringaskiddy incinerator proposal on April 19. Three weeks have been pencilled in for the hearing in Carrigaline Court Hotel.
Action group Chase, which has led opposition to the plan since 2002, is to mount a major demonstration outside the hearing.
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