Friday 28 July 2017

Poolbeg firm to bring in waste from outside city

Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

THE company behind the controversial €350m Poolbeg incinerator is already in discussions with waste producers outside Dublin to supply it with rubbish needed to fill the facility.

Dublin City Council has committed to provide it with 320,000 tonnes of waste each year. However, the main shareholder, Covanta Energy, has to generate an additional 280,000 tonnes in order to reach the plant's capacity.

The company yesterday admitted to a Dail committee hearing that it may have to look outside Dublin for additional waste material.

However, the Irish Independent has learned that in fact the company is already in discussions with waste suppliers around the country.

"The talks involve suppliers in a number of counties," said one source.

Scott Whitney, Covanta Energy's European president, yesterday told the environment committee hearing at the Dail: "We have an additional 280,000 tonnes a year to fill. It would not be responsible if we were not out in the market to fill that fuel stream."

Asked if the company had been in discussions with waste suppliers in the south-east of the country, Mr Whitney said it would be "up to that region to publicise who it is dealing with".

Covanta Energy is the parent company of the main shareholder behind Dublin Waste To Energy, which will operate the plant with its public partner, Dublin City Council.

Several members of the Dail committee pointed out that any movement of waste from around the country to the Poolbeg incinerator would mean trucks moving in and out of Dublin city centre.

Mr Whitney said the plant would not begin accepting waste until 2013 and Covanta should be able to fill it with Dublin-sourced waste if the Government meets the terms of the EU Landfill Directive.

Emissions

He added that preliminary construction began on the 13.6-acre site in December and that the three-year project would involve 500 construction jobs and then a staff of 60 to operate the facility.

Speaking earlier in Dublin, Mr Whitney said he disagreed with comments made by Environment Minister John Gormley that the plant's capacity should be reduced to between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes.

Covanta was also forced to defend its record, following a series of revelations in this newspaper about its record on excessive emissions at a number of the company's US plants.

Mr Whitney insisted that the company had a 99.9pc record of environmental compliance in the US and that it was aiming to reach 100pc.

He also said Covanta was engaged in talks with workers at a plant in Massachusetts after it was alleged that the firm had withheld bonuses and payments in retaliation for staff joining a trade union.

A US federal judge in Washington is expected to rule within weeks on whether Covanta Energy illegally withheld scheduled bonuses and wage increases after workers at its Semass plant in West Wareham had voted to join the Utility Workers Union of America in 2008.

Irish Independent

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