Pink smoke coming from the Indaver Ireland chimney on Tuesday. Picture: Facebook/Maria Mullen.
Alarm bells were ringing in the Carranstown and Duleek areas on Tuesday afternoon when pink smoke was to be seen coming from the chimney stack at the Indaver Ireland waste incinerator.
Indaver reported the matter to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) who sent inspectors to the site and instructed the company to cease combusting waste until they had undertaken further assessment.
The EPA said that after an initial assessment of emission monitoring the data indicates that all continuous emissions monitoring results (i.e. Carbon Monoxide, Total Dust, Hydrogen Chloride, Nitrogen oxides, Sulphur Dioxides and Total Organic Carbon) are in compliance with the licence conditions.
On Friday the EPA agreed that waste incineration may resume at the Indaver Ireland facility. The approval is subject to Indaver Ireland either undertaking monitoring for iodine or ceasing operation in the event of any further discolouration of the plume.
Local environmentalist James Levins, who along with others has been campaigning to have the Indaver plant closed on health and safety grounds was far from happy with the situation however.
He told Drogheda Life that he had been on the EPA and it seems that they have no powers to punish the company for breaches of emission regulations either by way of fines or to have their licence endorsed
“The system is really loaded in the company’s favour, it seems to me. I believe we need to see new legislation provided that would empower the EPA sufficiently to do their job properly, and to give them the powers and funding that's needed to do it, and then hold them to account and make sure they do it, as they are meant to do.
“That's a job for our new Government and all our political representative to get involved in and push hard to make sure something like this happens, in the near future.
"The only answer to these problems is better monitoring, controls, regulation, and independent environmental policing, that's the least the people of this community deserve, now that we have not one but two incinerators."
In a statement published on their web site yesterday Indaver Ireland denied there were any risks to public health from this event.
“There was an intermittent pink hue in the plume from Indaver’s waste-to-energy facility in Meath on the evening of the 13th of June between 4pm and 6pm and on the morning of the 14th June. Our investigation indicates that the hue was caused by a small amount of iodine from incoming municipal waste.
"We informed the EPA on the 13th and submitted the conclusions of our investigation to them on the 15th. Our own investigations and an independent assessment of the plume conclude that there was no risk to the environment or to human health. After an initial assessment of the emissions, the EPA notes that we “are in compliance with the license conditions”.
"The members of the Indaver Community Liaison Committee (ICLC) are being kept informed of the situation. The ICLC is made up of members of the local community, elected representatives, and members of Meath County Council.
"Iodine is commonly used as an agricultural disinfectant for livestock and their living environments and for hydroponics and nurseries. It is also found in common household products."