New Poolbeg incinerator reaches full capacity at 1,800 tonnes a day

HSA launched criminal investigation after a lime leak in June resulted in 11 workers being hospitalised

Dublin’s Poolbeg incinerator developed by US waste firm Covanta will be fully operational by August. We take a look inside. Video: Bryan O'Brien / Drone footage courtesy Covanta / Shannon Images


The operators of Dublin’s new waste incinerator in Poolbeg have said it is operating at full capacity, and processing approximately 1,800 tonnes of solid waste per day.

Recent independent tests on emissions from the plant had also shown it was fully compliant with Environmental Protection Agency conditions, Covanta said in a statement.

The plant was built as a public private partnership between Dublin City Council (acting on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities) and the waste-to-energy multinational company Covanta.

During the commissioning phase in June, a lime leak resulted in 11 workers being hospitalised. The EPA initiated legal proceedings against its operators following the incident.

In July, however, it allowed the company restart operations after “a number of process modifications and improvements” were made. In September it was confirmed that the Health and Safety Authority was carrying out a criminal investigation into what had happened.

Separately in July residents living near the incinerator complained about a large infestation of flies but Covanta denied it was connected to the incinerator.

As part of the commissioning process, an independent third party testing company completed stack emissions testing for both combustion lines at the facility. The purpose of the testing was to evaluate if emissions complied with the emission limits set out in an EPA licence.

“Results from the testing demonstrated that the emissions were significantly below the limits required and that 99.99 per cent of the volume leaving the stack is comprised of gases common to air including oxygen, hydrogen nitrogen and water vapour,” Covanta said.

Trace amounts of other common gases (less than 0.01 per cent of the total plume emissions) were contained in the discharge from the chimney stacks and are strictly controlled by state-of-the-art air pollution control equipment, Covanta said. “Dioxins and furans measured 98.14 per cent below licence limits and total particulate matter was determined to be 96.37 per cent below licence limits,” it pointed out – the results have been made available online.

John Daly general manager of the Dublin Waste-to-Energy facility said he and the facility staff were delighted to be operating at full capacity, having processed 150,000 tonnes of waste in the three months between August, September and October.

“The successful completion of the performance demonstration test and the transition into commercial operations marks a great milestone for the Dublin facility. Testing and commissioning is a complex process, testing thousands of systems, sensors and controls in the plant, and the May to October period was devoted to testing and re-testing every part of the operation,” he added.

As with any major infrastructure project, there were challenges along the way, Mr Daly said, but he was “proud of the way our team has persevered and overcome any difficulties in the commissioning process. The outstanding results from the independent emissions testing are extremely gratifying”, he said.

The facility in Dublin Port was “providing a much-needed sustainable waste management solution and sustainable energy supply for the Dublin region, Covanta pointed out. In addition, it was “diverting post-recycled residual waste from landfills and enabling the region to become self-sufficient in managing waste and complying with EU landfill diversion targets”.

It was also reducing Ireland’s reliance on imported fossil fuel, and contributing to Ireland’s renewable energy targets, by generating 60 megawatts of continuous electricity which is exported onto the national grid – enough to power 80,000 Irish homes.

On traffic issues Covanta said: “The bulk of the 600,000 tonnes of waste that the facility will burn each year is delivered via the Port Tunnel, and direct deliveries are comprised only of waste collected within a narrow radius of the plant. Fixed routes are followed to limit the impact on residential areas in the vicinity of the facility.”

The facility has also been designed to provide energy for district heating nearby to meet the equivalent needs of more than 50,000 homes. “The heat could be deployed as soon as the necessary piping to homes in the area has been installed. Dublin City Council is actively examining ways and means in which this might be done,” it added.