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Saturday 17 March 2018

Poolbeg may face action as 11 hospitalised by leak

The Poolbeg Incinerator is subject of three investigations. Photo: Collins
The Poolbeg Incinerator is subject of three investigations. Photo: Collins
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The operators of the controversial Poolbeg incinerator may face action by the environmental watchdog after 11 workers were hospitalised following an incident at the plant.

A "small amount" of hydrated lime used to remove dioxins and heavy metals during combustion was released into the plant during testing and commissioning works.

The workers complained of nausea, breathing difficulties and blurred vision, and they received first-aid on site before going to St Vincent's Hospital. Two were kept overnight.

Three investigations are under way - one by US firm Covanta which operates the plant, a second by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and a third by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which issued the licence to Covanta.

The EPA said it would require Covanta to produce a full report, which would address "corrective and preventative actions" to be taken.

"On foot of this report, and the EPA's own investigation, further action may be considered," it added.

The incinerator is designed to process 600,000 tonnes of waste a year. It will supply power to 80,000 homes and heating to 50,000 when it begins full operations in August or September.

The incident happened at 10.45pm on Wednesday. Around 30 workers were dismantling scaffolding in a part of the building close to the boilers when a small quantity of hydrated lime was released inside the flue gas treatment area.

Covanta said the boiler unit being operated was shut down and the lime was contained and did not escape into the environment. A preliminary investigation suggested the release of lime was due to a problem with a door seal in the fabric filter baghouse, it added.

Irish Independent

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