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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 21 November, 2019
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'We need clean air. We do not need accidents': Locals' fury as 11 incinerator staff hospitalised

Locals say they are concerned after yesterday’s lime leak.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

RINGSEND LOCALS MET the news that 11 staff were hospitalised at the Poolbeg incinerator this afternoon with a mixture of concern and anger.

Protesters told TheJournal.ie they had been worried about an incident such as this since plans to introduce the waste centre were drawn up over 20 years ago.

The 11 staff members were taken to hospital after what is being described as an ‘uncontrolled release’ of lime within the plant in Dublin.

Nine people have since been released, and two remain in hospital.

The company has claimed that the incident had no impact outside the plant. Inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Health & Safety Authority are at the scene earlier today.

While the anger in the local area was palpable, one emotion people weren’t expressing was shock. For some of the people we spoke to, it vindicated their concerns over the plant. Others expressed concern about the health of all of the staff members, many of whom are locals.

Damien Cassidy, Chairman of the Ringsend Local Environment Group, said he has been campaigning against the development of the incinerator for the last 10 years. He said he hopes all staff make a quick recovery but warned that he fears there will be more accidents at the facility.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Cassidy said: ” The situation is that they have put it here where there are existing houses and beyond the chimney they plan to build over 400 apartments in the near future.

There will be children and old folk. We need clean air. We do not need accidents of any description. I’m not a bit surprised by this.

“The place is built. You have to take it from there.”

Around the corner in Ringsend village, many residents said they were furious about what had happened.

Disgusted

Marie Walsh, who has lived in Ringsend for over 30 years, said she was “disgusted” to hear what had happened to the workers.

She said: “They should be ashamed of themselves. I’m disgusted by it all now. Everyone has been saying how worried they are about this thing going up. We don’t know what’s coming into the air. You had every Tom, Dick and Harry saying it was going to be safe. Now, there’s 11 people in the hospital. It’s not too safe-looking now.”

damien cassidy Damien Cassidy, Chairman of the Ringsend Local Environment Group Source: TheJournal.ie

A spokesperson for Covanta, the company that runs the plant, said that late last night “a small amount of lime was inadvertently released inside the flue gas treatment area” during the commissioning and testing of the plant.

“At the time, there were a number of workers in an adjacent area,” it said.

As a precaution, eleven workers were sent to St Vincent’s Hospital nearby for medical evaluation. Two were detained overnight.

It’s understood that no ambulances were called, but the exact condition of the workers is not known.

Brendan Somers has recently moved to the area with his wife and three children. He said he knew that the incinerator was in the area but said he was sure that nothing would happen.

“For me, I thought that because there was so much talking about it that there would be more safety. I hope the workers are all okay. Hopefully, something like this is unusual and doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Controversy

The controversial incinerator – which is located close to the iconic Poolbeg chimneys at the mouth of the Liffey – only started burning waste a week ago.

The project was first proposed two decades ago – but was held up for years before construction work finally commenced in 2014.

008 Incinerator burning waste_90514175 Poolbeg Incinerator in Dublin. Source: RollingNews.ie

The Health & Safety Authority was notified at 6am this morning and investigators are currently on site. The incident is being described as a ‘dangerous occurrence’, which means a serious event that may have consequences to human health or the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspectors are also examining whether the release had any impact outside the plant.

Covanta said the lime was contained within the building and did not escape into the environment, and the incident had “no impact whatsoever” outside the plant.

It went on to say: “The safety of our employees and contractors is of utmost importance to Covanta and we are investigating the incident thoroughly.”

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha. 

Drone footage provided by Skyscraper Aerials www.skyscraperaerials.com

Read: ‘I suppose we’re f****** stuck with it’: The Poolbeg incinerator is starting production

Read: Up and running: ‘First fire’ of waste at controversial Poolbeg incinerator

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