Saturday 24 March 2018

Poolbeg plant ordered to halt incineration after 11 had to be hospitalised

Poolbeg Incinerator (Photo: Colin O'Riordan)
Poolbeg Incinerator (Photo: Colin O'Riordan)

Alan O'Keeffe

The Poolbeg incinerator has temporarily ceased operation after an inspection team from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) served two prohibition notices yesterday.

It means no combustion can take place until processes have been fully checked to the satisfaction of the team of officials.

Eleven staff were taken to hospital on Wednesday night after a faulty door seal resulted in a cloud of lime particles enveloping the workers.

Lime is used to clean the flue gas, which contains dioxins and heavy metals, during the combustion process. Nine of the workers were discharged from St Vincent's hospital and two were kept overnight.

The new plant has been undergoing a series of commissioning processes in preparation for it becoming fully operational. One of the prohibition notices was issued against the operator, Covanta; the other was against a firm called HZI, also involved in the plant.

The notices temporarily prohibit the combustion process during the commissioning phase. The prohibition notices will remain in place until the combustion process has been fully checked to the satisfaction of HSA inspectors.

In a statement, Covanta said a "number of workers" were in an adjacent area to the gas treatment area, and were taken to hospital for evaluation "as a precaution".

"Combustion Unit No 1, which was operating at the time, was shut down in an orderly and controlled manner," the statement added.

"The lime was contained within the building and did not escape into the environment."

Irish Independent

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