Cork incinerator site would ‘affect naval base evacuation’

In case of accident, staff at nearby base would have to travel towards hazard, says Government

An artist’s impression of the proposed waste-to-energy facility which Indaver is seeking to build at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour

An artist’s impression of the proposed waste-to-energy facility which Indaver is seeking to build at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour

 

The Department of Defence has expressed concern that in the case of an accident at the site of the proposed €160 million incinerator in Cork Harbour, personnel evacuating a nearby naval base would be forced to travel towards the hazard.

Some 1,000 Navy Service staff are based on Haulbowline island, which has its entrance opposite the site of the proposed incinerator.

Yesterday the Department, in a response to a submission from consultants for incinerator developer, Indaver, addressed the issue of access and egress from Haulbowline.

Commandant David Browne of the Air Corps said that Indaver, in a response to an earlier submission from the Department, appeared to be avoiding the kernel of the issue when it said “there are no scenarios for which the evacuation of Haulbowline would be required”.

He said in the event of an accident at the proposed facility, “the sole route of travel for the 1,000 personnel who work on the naval base, including approximately 200 who live there, would be towards the hazard”.

It was of paramount importance the naval base would remain operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week and if egress from the base was not possible for even a short period of time due to some hazard, it would have a serious impact on Naval operations.

And he instanced the case of the Naval Service Diving Team who are on call 24/7 for searches for missing persons and must have egress by road from the base at all times so that they can fulfil their operational duties.

Comdt Browne said the fact that the proposed site has not been categorised as a SEVESO site - a European Commission designation for major accident hazard sites - doesn’t mean that there is zero risk of a possible need for evacuation from the vicinity of the plant.

“Indaver themselves have identified this very scenario in (one of its) statements on Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment when it is stated that a major leak from the ammonia tank would require people in the vicinity to either take shelter or evacuate the area.

“The south of the Naval Base is within the distance identified by Indaver as possibly requiring such action. The only evacuation road off the island for up to 1,000 personnel would be towards the Indaver facility and the hazard,” he said.