Health warning: Incinerators get go ahead
"Grow up, be mature and stop the nonsense" - these were the words of Environment Minister Martin Cullen last month addressing the concerns of Cork residents opposed to the siting of a national toxic waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy.
By Mick Barry
Despite the fact that more than 16,000 objections were lodged to the planning applications, that Cork County Council voted against the project and that Bord Pleanala's referee who chaired the oral hearing made 14 recommendations against planning permission, Bord Pleanala voted 8-1 in January to give the green light to the incinerator.
Belgian multinational Indaver now plans to build two incinerators capable of burning 200,000 tonnes of hazardous, industrial, commercial and municipal waste per annum, to be operational by 2007.
A report from the University of Exeter a number of years ago stated: "It is now established that a broad range of health effects have been associated with living near incinerators. Such effects include cancer, adverse impacts on the respiratory system, heart disease, immune system effects, increased allergies and congenital abnormalities".
Residents of the Cork harbour communities are preparing to raise funds for a High Court appeal. A case is worth pursuing to slow down the process and to offer a slim chance of victory, but the Bord Pleanala judgment shows that the State is no friend of the people and no reliance should be placed on the High Court to win the day.
Hand in hand with court action, preparations must be made now for a huge "people power" campaign to stop the incinerator. This would have to take the form of "direct action" - preparing people in their hundreds to physically block construction of the project, defying the law if necessary. This approach has stopped incinerators in the US and it can work here too.