Tyre burning plan cited as risk to emergency helicopters

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IRISH Cement’s bid to burn tyres and plastics at its Castlemungret site will have serious consequences for emergency flights into University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

That’s the view of Limerick City West councillor, Daniel Butler (FG) who has raised serious concerns about helicopter safety, for both the air ambulance and air search and rescue, at the Limerick hospital.

He said it was one of the key reasons behind An Bord Pleanála’s decision to defer a decision on whether to give the go-ahead to a controversial incinerator at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour.

“The planning authority has written to Indaver Ireland, the company proposing to build the €160m facility, seeking further information in relation to helicopter navigation safety on foot of concerns raised by the Department of Defence at an oral hearing into the project last year,” Cllr Butler told the Limerick Post.

“At the time, the department said proximity of the incinerator stack to the approach paths of Haulbowline Naval Base and Spike Island was ‘a matter of concern’. The board wants Indaver to ‘comprehensively address all matters relating to the navigation and safety of helicopters using the naval base’ raised by the department, including the possible requirement for an exclusion zone around the naval base,” he explained.

The concerns in Cork, according to Cllr Butler, lay largely around the dioxins and furans emitted from stacks and this he feels will be an even greater issue in Limerick if Irish Cement get their licence to burn tyres and other waste materials.

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“These new concerns are genuine as they have been raised by the Department of Defence and they need to be considered here. Living in the area, I know there are regular flights into UHL and if Irish Cement’s plan to burn these tyres and plastics goes ahead it will have serious consequences for these emergency flights. If that’s the case, it must mean the end of this application,” he concluded.

In a statement to the Limerick Post this week, Irish Cement rejected Cllr Butler’s claims as alarmist and highly irresponsible.

“Any reading of the recent request from An Bord Pleanála to Indaver to address questions about helicopter safety in the vicinity of the proposed new facility in Cork Harbour would see that the issues raised are entirely unique to the Cork application. These questions do not arise for the Mungret Cement Factory, which has operated, on the same site since 1938.

“Any attempt to establish a link between these two applications is both cynical and misleading. There is a responsibility on public representatives to act in a responsible manner and show leadership. We would therefore urge Cllr Butler to withdraw his remarks.”

by Alan Jacques

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