Cork incinerator safety questioned after Antwerp plant death

Indaver says it is seeking to establish exact sequence of events that led to fatal explosion

The incinerator will have an operational life of 30 years. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The incinerator will have an operational life of 30 years. Photograph: Dave Meehan


Opponents of a proposed €160 million incinerator for Cork Harbour have questioned the safety record of the company seeking to build the facility following an explosion yesterday at one of their plants in Belgium.

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase) extended their sympathies to the family of the Indaver employee killed in the explosion at its plant at Stabroek near Antwerp and sent their best wishes to the four people who were injured.

“Indaver have some serious questions to answer. The company has assured us that this couldn’t happen in Cork Harbour, but this second major explosion at the Belgian plant within the lifespan of their third planning application here makes it hard to take any assurances seriously.

According to the Chase spokesperson, the latest tragedy highlighted “the insanity of locating this type of lethal facility yards from a bus stop for students to and from the Marine College and at the end of a cul-de-sac.”

Indaver confirmed today that an accident occurred during the preparation of waste for treatment at its plant near Antwerp where liquid waste was being transferred into a storage tank. It said the company’s on-site emergency response team and external emergency services responded promptly.

“Sadly, an Indaver employee was fatally injured. Four colleagues attended hospital and were subsequently released. At this time, the focus is on the family of our colleague who sadly lost his life and providing ongoing support to our colleagues impacted by this tragic accident.”

Indaver said it was committed to the safe operation of its waste-to-energy facilities and the health and safety of all employees and the communities where it operates. It would also undertake “a robust internal investigation” into the incident and co-operate fully with the regulatory authorities.

Last May, An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission under strategic infrastructure legislation to for the Cork incinerator at a 13.5 hectare site at the end of the Ringaskiddy Peninsula with an operational life of 30 years. Its planning inspector had recommended refusal.

Chase has since gone to the High Court to seek a judicial review to challenge the decision by An Bord Pleanála. The case will be heard next February.