A fatal explosion at an Indaver waste plant in Belgium highlights the “insanity” of the company’s proposed incinerator being located close to a bus stop used by college students in Cork harbour, opponents said last night.
Waste management firm Indaver has launched an investigation after one worker was killed and four others were injured in a blast at its flagship Antwerp plant on Thursday.
In a statement, the company blamed the explosion on the discharge of liquid waste into a storage tank and said an investigation is under way to determine the exact sequence of events.
A spokesperson said: “At this time, the focus is on the family of our colleague who sadly lost his life, and providing ongoing support to our colleagues impacted by this tragic accident.
“Indaver remains committed to the safe operation of its waste-to-energy facilities and the health and safety of all employees and the communities in which we operate.”
“The company will undertake a robust internal investigation into yesterday’s incident in Antwerp, in addition to co-operating fully with the regulatory authorities.”
The fatal blast occurred at the same plant that was rocked by a huge explosion in February 2016.
A nearby road tunnel was closed and residents were advised to close windows and doors as up to 60 firefighters tackled a “municipal disaster”.
A spokeswoman for Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase), the campaign group in the Cork harbour area which is leading opposition to Indaver’s proposed Ringaskiddy incinerator, said their sympathies are with the family of the deceased and they hope the injured recover.
However, the spokeswoman said the company has some serious questions to answer.
“The company has assured us that this couldn’t happen in Cork Harbour, but this second major explosion within the lifespan of their third application here makes it hard to take any assurances seriously,” she said.
“This tragedy highlights and reinforces the insanity of locating this type of lethal facility yards from a bus stop for students to and from the marine college, and at the end of a cul-de-sac.”
Permission for the Ringaskiddy incinerator was granted by An Bord Pleanála in May, against the recommendation of the inspector who chaired the oral hearing. It was the third time the board had over-ruled one of its own inspectors in relation to this application.
Chasewill present its legal challenge to that decision in the High Court next February.
Since getting the green light in July to launch a judicial review of the decision, Chase’s legal team has served extensive court documents on the board and the developers.
Earlier this week, the High Court fixed February 12, 2019 as the commencement date of the legal challenge.
It has set aside eight days for the hearing. Mr Justice Barniville has also set out a timetable for various procedural steps that must be taken before the hearing.
The board and the developers have been directed to file their full written responses to the Chase case by October 12 and 26 respectively.
“It is a pity, with all three of Bord Pleanála’s inspectors recommending refusal of the project, that we have to turn to the court, but with the support of so many people in the harbour area, we have a chance to test the legality of the board decision and look forward to doing that,” said the Chase spokeswoman.