Dáil Éireann - Volume 520 - 30 May, 2000
Written Answers. - Waste Disposal.
Mr. McGrath Mr. McGrath
282. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if, in the context of plans for the future waste disposal strategy, he has commissioned any study on the emissions from incinerators and their possible adverse health effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15399/00]
Mr. D. Wallace Mr. D. Wallace
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. D. Wallace): Thermal treatment of waste, carried on in accordance with high environmental standards, is regarded as environmentally preferable to the disposal of waste by landfill, and plays a major part in municipal waste management in many EU countries and further afield.
In accordance with the policy guidance outlined in Changing our Ways, emerging regional waste management plans provide for the development of an integrated network of waste management infrastructure, including facilities for thermal treatment of waste.
To inform the development and implementation of these waste management plans, two EU-funded feasibility studies were carried out in 1998 on thermal treatment-recovery options as one element in an integrated approach towards waste management. These studies examined the technical, environmental and financial advantages and disadvantages of thermal treatment in two distinct rural regions – the north-east and mid-west – and in the greater Dublin region.
The studies were commissioned respectively by Meath County Council, on behalf of eight local authorities in the two rural regions concerned, and Dublin Corporation on behalf of the four local authorities in the Dublin region.
The Minister for the Environment and Local Government has no direct function in relation to the making of waste management plans or the selection and development of waste facilities by local authorities and, accordingly, has not commissioned studies of the nature referred to. However, many international studies have been undertaken in relation to the incineration and thermal treatment of waste, and considerable information in this regard is available through  ENFO, the environmental information service operated by my Department.
Irish environmental legislation, in particular the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, provides for the integrated licensing and comprehensive environmental control of waste incineration facilities. The EPA must take the precautionary principle into account and is precluded from granting an integrated licence unless, among other considerations, it is satisfied that the activity concerned will not endanger human health or harm the environment.
Dáil Éireann 520 Written Answers. Waste Disposal.