Galway Safe Waste Alliance
Ballinahistle/Kilrickle Anti-Dump Committee
Ballinasloe Against the Super Dump
Clontuskert Anti-Incineration Group
Cross/New Inn Anti-Dump Committee
Galway for a Safe Environment
Newbridge Action Committee
A Joint Submission to Galway County Council and Corporation
The Galway Safe Waste Alliance has been formed in County Galway to campaign for a more sustainable approach to waste management in the county. The Alliance is opposed to the Connacht Draft Waste Management Plan, and is composed of the concerned community groups that have been campaigning on the issue of waste and environmental issues in Galway City and County.
The Alliance is also involved in framing the alternative waste management strategies that can meet the needs of the people of Galway in a sustainable manner. The alternative plan should be created by a partnership between the community groups and the local authorities.
This submission to Galway County Council and Corporation lists firstly the reasons for rejection of the Connacht Draft Waste Management Plan, and secondly the principles underlying a possible Alternative Waste Management Plan.
Reasons to Reject the Connacht Draft Waste Management Plan:
- There is no valid reason, economically or environmentally, to take a large percentage of the waste of Connacht to Galway City for incineration, and then to transport the ash residue to landfills in East Galway (contrary to EU Proximity Principle).
- The process on landfill site selection is flawed (Report O'Callaghan/Moran, Report Healy & Associates).
- The health implications of incineration are ignored. Incineration produces significant amounts of toxic materials to air and to the ash, including heavy metals, dioxins and furanes, some of which are human carcinogens (Recent report of US Environmental Protection Agency).
- The health implications of landfills are ignored (Numerous international reports as to health hazards of landfills).
- The three landfill sites selected in East Galway were all selected as part of the Galway Waste Management Plan, which is now redundant. As the Connacht Plan now supersedes the Galway Plan, no proper site selection was carried out in Connacht.
- The plan makes no provision for dealing with the toxic fly ash from the proposed incinerator, or other such facility.
- Over 36,000 tonnes of bottom ash per year is actually missing from the plan.
- No account is taken of the huge increase in heavy road traffic in Galway that will result from a Connacht Plan.
- The financial projections in the Plan are flawed. For example, the capital cost of the incinerator at £46 million is grossly underestimated.
- The plan states that there will be increased charges for all users of the system, but there is no information on the actual increased cost to the householder or business-person.
- The environmental analysis in the plan is flawed. It completely ignores the effects of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury), acids (HCL) and particulates. The figures for green house gas emissions (carbon dioxide) are miscalculated. This error results in the wrong scenario being chosen as the Best Practicable Environmental Option.
- The report prepared by MC O'Sullivan & Co. on the October 1999 visit to Swindon Landfill is inaccurate and misleading.
- The Archaeology review section of the landfill selection process was not adhered to. Insufficient attention has been paid to archaeological and historical/heritage monuments in the landfill and incinerator site selection processes.
- No details are given in the plan as to how hazardous materials are to be screened from the waste stream.
- The recycling targets in the plan totally underestimate people's willingness to recycle - MC O'Sullivan have admitted that "they only scratched the surface" on recycling.
- Only 50% of the region will have a recyclables household collection service.
- Incineration is no longer an option. "In France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany and Portugal, no more incinerators are being built because people no longer want them" (Ludwig Kraemer - Head of EU Waste Management Directorate, May 18th, 2000).
- A 1996 EPA report showed that the level of dioxins in cows' milk in Ireland is by far the lowest in Europe. The Plan has no regard to the effect that increased dioxin and heavy metals will have on the food production and agriculture industries.
- Gassification, thermal decomposition and other forms of thermal treatment are purely experimental, and no area of Galway should be used as a testing ground for untried and unproven technologies.
- To note their serious concerns, over 22,000 people in and around Galway City have signed a petition against the Connacht Draft Waste Management Plan. This petition reads:
We, the undersigned, demand that our elected representatives reject the Connacht Draft Waste Management Plan because it includes incineration as a method of waste management. We believe that the proposed incinerator, and its associated ash superdumps, represents unacceptable health risks to the people of Galway City and County and are a threat to the environment and economy of the West of Ireland. We believe that Reduction, Re-use and an intensive Recycling campaign can meet the desired amounts of diversion of waste from landfill.
Principles underlying the Alternative Plan
- Sustainability - the waste management process must be sustainable for generations - incineration and landfills will lead to much higher levels of toxic chemicals in the environment.
- Reduction - the emphasis must be on reduction of the volumes of waste produced - incinerators need a guaranteed waste stream for 25 years.
- Re-Use - there must also be an emphasis on re-use and repair of products.
- Recycling- many communities throughout the world have reached levels of diversion from landfill of over 60% without incineration- examples include Seattle, Canberra, Guelph Ontario, Daventry in Essex etc.
- Proximity - Each community must learn to deal with its own waste, locally. This will reduce the amount of traffic on the roads. On no account should waste be transported over long distances.
- Landfills- should landfills be required, they must only be sited in areas that will not impact on people.
- Environment - we must ensure that our environment is handed on to future generations intact and enhanced.
- Organic Waste - home composting and composting centres must ensure that absolutely no organic waste goes to landfill.
- Hazardous Waste- a screening centre must be established to screen 100% of what goes to landfill - especially screening out hazardous materials.
- Source-Separation / Kerbside - recycling collection schemes must be extended to all households in Galway City and County.
- Education - a proper education process must be implemented for the public at large, and in primary, secondary and third-level educational institutions.
- Partnership -a partnership between the public and their elected councillors and appointed officials must be set up to deal with waste management and the drafting of an alternative plan.
- Independent Monitoring - all waste facilties must be independently monitored by the partnership group.
- Sustainable Success can be achieved by a community-driven response, along the lines of the Nova Scotia / Essex models, involving a basic structure, an Economic Board, a Monitoring / Infrastructure Board, and a Local Legislative Framework.
Seán Gavin, Newbridge 0903-60198 / 087-2648126
Conchúr Ó Brádaigh 091-799223 / 087-2830452