Anti-Incinerator Case to go to Supreme Court

1999 Update

For the past two years Ms Orla Ni Eili has been engaged in a legal battle against the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) . For a further one and a half years before this she and a local environmental group were actively involved in attempting to overturn a decision by the EPA to grant a licence to the pharmaceutical company Roche to operate a hazardous waste incinerator in Co. Clare.

The story up till now...

Sept. 1995: Small ad is spotted in local newspaper that the American pharmaceutical/agribusiness company Syntex is to be granted a licence to burn its own hazardous waste at their Clarecastle plant.

Oct. 95 - Feb.95: Objections are lodged by local citizens plus Green Party and Greenpeace on planning and environmental grounds.

Early 96: Hoffman Laroche (Roche ) take over Syntex operations in Europe including Clarecastle.

Mar 96: Local authorities leave way clear by granting planning permission for construction of incinerator . Only environmental grounds are now left open for objections.

Sept 96: The proposed toxic waste incinerator in Clarecastle is the subject of the first ever Irish EPA oral hearing in Ennis, Co Clare.
Roche employ one independent witness to speak on their behalf, Prof. Rappe, an elderly Norwegian organic chemist.
Opposing groups attract several nationally/internationally renowned experts who give their time free of charge.

They are:

Vyvyan Howard, a neonatal toxico-pathologist,
Dr David Santillo, marine biologist;
Beverly Thorpe, Clean production consultant;
Pro f. Ken Geiser, director, Toxic Users Reduction Institute, Boston USA;
Marie Christine Klaus, market garden expert EU commision, Brussels.

All give expert testimony for the case against incineration and why this particular licence is so flawed. Testimony is also presented by local farmers, fishing families, ornithologists, naturalists, as to the severe adverse effects since 1976 created by the negligent practices of the previous company Syntex.

Not one proper comparative piece of data on wildlife has been carried out in twenty two years.

Dec.96: Despite totally inadequate testing of the land and watercourses around Clarecastle the EPA grants the licence to incinerate to Roche.

Experts against the licence agree that the EPA simply has not understood their evidence. Even Prof. Rappe's urgings for further background testing in the area go unheeded.

Feb 97: Ms Ní Éilí, with a strong legal team working on a pro bono basis only, initiate high court proceeding against the EPA on constitutional grounds arguing that the EPA has shown a complete lack of good sense in environmental / health terms in issuing this licence.

Several court hearings take place.

Jan 98: Full five day court hearing takes place in the High Court in Dublin.

Feb 98: Órla has judgement with costs against her in High court. Judge points out that he is not able in Irish law to support her case.

The health fears are on two fronts:

Initial facts for the reader to contemplate :

Local fishermen cite over thirty, often major, environmental changes to the Fergus Estuary where the effluent discharges from the pharmaceutical plant flow into.

Many forms of fish have almost or completely disappeared from the estuary.

The substrate mud has changed colour from grey to brown.

The reeds, those of which are still left, now have a distinct brown line along them.

An overpowering noxious brownish gas is often present near the plant along the banks.

Bird watchers have witnessed dramatic decreases in numbers of birds especially on the Fergus Estuary mudflats, which is an internationally protected bird area.

Perhaps most worrying and significant of all were the eight saline cattle deaths reported in July 1996. Watered from a supposedly freshwater ditch between the Fergus Estuary and farmland just a few hundred yards down from the plant, they died of acute salt poisoning. In samples taken by the EPA from the farm's water barrels and the ditch, the salt content was over ten times of that present in the adjacent p art of the estuary, the other side of the embankment.
The salinity recordings of the estuary at that point were actually carried out by the company in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the EPA. Despite bromoform readings hugely in excess of a ny other compound, no test for the specific salt was carried out.
Syntex / Roche in its own recordings, deposits on a daily basis, over half of its licensed two tons of sodium bromide into the estuary. Bromoform is the bromine equivalent of the more famil iar chloroform. Remember the brownish gas witnessed before. The EPA would not need Sherlock Holmes on the case to work out probable cause in this instance.

In the amended licence the company is now going to be able to emit up to five hundred thousand litres of untreated scrubber effluent from the incinerator into the estuary on a daily basis, with no limits on dioxins or organohalogens, two of the most toxic groups of compounds known. The ash from the incinerator is to be landfilled in a non-toxic dump on site without toxicity testing. It will contain dioxins and organohalogens. All this will only worsen the already billion pound disaster estimated to have been created.

The Environmental Impact Statement for construction and operation of the incinerator was reviewed in its entirety to assess accuracy and completeness in terms of project planning, modeling, waste identification, and technical data presented, so, erm, here's the science bit , as they say...



A legal fund has been launched in Ennis and nationwide to assist in progressing an appeal against the High Court’s February decision in the case of Ní Éilí v The Environmental Protection Agency.

The fund will go towards defraying the essential minimum legal expense of getting the case into the Supreme Court with the aid of a supportive legal team.

The fund is based at

the TSB, Abbey Street, Ennis,

account number 12948441,

sort code 99-07-28.

Every little bit helps!

eMAIL to:

Alacrity is My Middle Name DTP

Revised March 2001