3 days of EPA oral hearing: we have not become any wiser!

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The EPA’s oral hearing on the licence of Irish Cement Factory to burn toxic/hazardous waste started on Wednesday 2nd Dec. After 3 days of hearing, this is what we have learned.


The emissions and the burning of tyres

On the second day of hearing, I spoke. I presented my case on PM2.5 (levels and composition: PM2.5 can contain heavy metals!) and dioxins and how the food chain can be cross-contaminated. More, here.

I asked some difficult questions Mr Seamus Breen, Head of Quality and Sustainability (fancy title!):

one of my questions to Mr Breen was on the monitoring of emissions. Irish Cement do NOT monitor the pollutants in real time but actually they take an average value! So, we don’t know at the moment of burning waste (tyres etc) what pollutants are coming out of the chimney! Mr Breen insisted that the average (periodical) values are ok, but they are far from ok. I also asked Mr Breen if they know what pollutants are emitted when they burn tyres. Ms Michelle Hayes continued the questions on burning tyres on Thursday 3rd Dec afternoon, and we have learned from the lips of Mr Breem that NOBODY in Irish Cement Factory has an idea on burning tyres!


Vicinity to schools and Natura resorts

On Friday, Councillors and members of the public asked some very difficult questions. The answer that was coming again and again from the lips of Irish cement people is that their statistical models (not real time data!) have taken into account these hazards and all is ok!

However, it became evident that all the modelling of emissions made by Irish Cement is based on statistical models. The question : do you have real time data ? came again and again but no answer was given because there is no answer!


The HIQA report

On Friday 4th Dec, I made a comment to the hearing, about the non-validity of the HIQA report. More, here.

The HIQA report used data of 2015, long before the burning of toxic waste in the Irish Cement kiln!

This is a fundamental weakness of the report!

The data used are more than 5 years old! One might wonder what is the use of this report in relation to the EPA’s oral hearing?



Conclusions (so far)

  1. The company has no experience on burning tyres.
  2. The company has no real time data on the emissions.
  3. The company has ignored the vicinity of the plant to communities and schools!

The hearing will continue on Monday, 7th Dec.

Ioannis Zabetakis

Senior Lecturer and Head, Biological Sciences, UL.