Serious concerns raised about West Limerick gasification plant

by Alan Jacques

Site of proposed gasification plant at Gortadroma.
Site of proposed gasification plant at Gortadroma.

NEWCASTLE West councillor Seamus Browne has questioned the wisdom of situating a gasification plant at Gortadroma landfill in County Limerick and “potentially jeopardising the wellbeing of the community”.

US firm Cadence EnviroPower (CEP) is proposing to convert 1,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste a day into syngas at the Ballyhahill site in West Limerick in a deal estimated to be worth €190 million to the local authority over 30 years. The lease was signed earlier this month.

Sinn Féin representative Seamus Browne believes that a number of questions and issues surrounding the project need to addressed in order to allay the very real fears that exist within the community.

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“I have to question if this is a good decision for Gortadroma and the wider community in West County Limerick,” said Cllr Browne.

“The process of gasification goes against EU sustainable waste policies as recyclable material must be burned in the process in order to allow such plants to run efficiently. Therefore, I have worries that sustainable businesses that are engaged in true recycling will find it hard to survive when completing with a multinational like Cadence,” he claimed.

Cllr Browne predicted this could have a negative effect on employment before raising concerns about the level of Cadence’s experience in the area of gasification on the scale and of the type proposed for the Gortadroma plant.

“Research shows that true recycling supports a far greater number of jobs than gasification. The level of emissions that the plant will generate is also a topic that has proved to be cause for worry and could pose a considerable threat to public health given the large scale of gasification that we are discussing.”

In response, a spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said: “This permission process will require full public consultation and the public along with other interested stakeholders will be afforded the opportunity to raise questions or comments as part of these applications. The granting of planning permission and a waste licence can only be given once the satisfactory legislative requirements are adhered to.”

She continued: “As part of providing information to the public, Limerick City and County Council have asked Cadence EnviroPower to commence the process of public consultation on their proposals as soon as practical. At these meetings the public will be provided with an opportunity to raise issues or provide comment as regards the proposed gasification plant with representatives from Cadence EnviroPower.”