Two Poolbeg incinerator workers released from hospital

Operator promises ‘good level of transparency’ on leak that hospitalised employees

The incinerator at Poolbeg in Ringsend. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Two workers who were injured following an incident at the new Dublin municipal incinerator overlooking Sandymount Strand have been discharged from St Vincent’s Hospital.

Investigations are continuing at the Dublin Waste to Energy plant at Poolbeg, but the cause of the leak on Wednesday night has been confirmed.

Eleven people were hospitalised initially after a small amount of lime, which is used to trap pollutants, was released inside the flue gas treatment area at the incinerator.

The Health and Safety Authority is leading the investigation. A spokesman said there was no indication when the work would be concluded, but combustion activity on the site was still suspended.


On Friday night the HSA said its inspectors it had taken "enforcement action" and served prohibition notices against Covanta and Hitachi Zosen Inova, a Swiss waste to energy technology firm which supplied combustion technology being used in the facility. "The notices temporarily prohibit the combustion process during the commissioning phase. They will remain in place until the combustion process has been fully checked to the satisfaction of HSA Inspectors," it added.

An Environmental Protection Agency inspector met senior managers to review the incident. The processing of waste would not be allowed to resume until both the HSA and EPA were satisfied, said a spokeswoman for the latter.

A spokesman for the operator, Covanta, said it was satisfied the source of the leak was a door seal that was “not properly fitted”. He said commissioning and burning would not resume until all current identified issues were “resolved to the satisfaction of all involved”.

The company’s own investigation would provide a “good level of transparency” on what happened, he added. The plant is due to become fully operationally in September.

Dublin City Council motion

Cllr Dermot Lacey of the Labour Party has tabled an emergency motion to go before a meeting of Dublin City Council on Monday, calling on the local authority to seek a full report from Covanta on the incident.

The Ringaskiddy and District Residents' Association in Co Cork said the report of an "uncontrolled release of gases" at the Poolbeg incinerator should pose serious questions for An Bord Pleanála as they consider whether to grant planning permission to Indaver Ireland for their proposed incinerator at Ringaskiddy.

Its secretary, Vivian Prout, said they were “horrified” to hear the managing director of the Poolbeg facility state that 11 people affected by the incident had, despite nausea and blurred vision, driven their own cars to hospital.

Serious incidents of this nature could have a catastrophic effect on the community surrounding an incinerator, Mr Prout said.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times