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Minister's policy directly contradicts views of German Greens

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley's opposition to incineration directly clashes with the views of his German Green counterparts.

The minister insists incineration is outdated and that Ireland needs to embrace other technologies such as mechanical biological treatment (MBT).

However, in a recent presentation to Dublin City Council, the scientific adviser to the German Green Party, Dr Michael Weltzin, stated that the advantage of having incinerators was that they were the "proven technology for many years".

Dr Weltzin points out that the benefits of incinerators include low emissions, no landfilling, and high efficiency in recovering heat and electricity.

The Poolbeg energy-from-waste plant would produce 56 MW (megawatts) of electricity; enough for 80,000 homes and 20pc of Dublin's household electricity needs.

It would also provide district heating for up to the equivalent of another 60,000 homes.

Mr Gormley is opposing the construction of the facility, which would involve 500 construction jobs and up to 100 permanent jobs afterwards.

Dr Weltzin says the Greens in Germany, where the party began, were strictly opposed to incineration in the 1980s because of low-emission standards for dioxins.

However, during the 1990s cleaner incineration technologies became available as the awareness about global warming as a major problem grew.

Also, pollution coming from landfills came to be recognised as a serious problem.

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Dr Weltzin warns that landfills are "black boxes, with uncontrolled biological and chemical processes.

"They need intensive care for generations, leaching water has to be treated for years.

"You have the permanent danger of leaks, with major impacts for groundwater and soil.

"Such problems are usually not reparable," he adds.

"This is why the Greens are campaigning to entirely end the disposal of waste from humans on landfill sites by 2020," the Green scientist told Dublin city council officials in a report.

And he points out that mechanical biological treatment -- the process which is favoured by Mr Gormley instead of the proposed Poolbeg incinerator -- had "major technical problems, no market for the solid fuels, and landfilling is still necessary".

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