The Irish Cement plant in Mungret
MORE than 1,400 people have now lodged submissions with the Environmental Protection Agency to Irish Cement’s plans to switch from fossil fuel to the use of tyres.
It comes as councillors step up the pressure on Limerick City and County Council to intervene in the row, and make their own observations with the EPA, which will ultimately decide whether the cement giant can switch to using tyres and solid recovered fuel instead of the petroleum coke currently used at the vast site in Mungret.
At this week’s metropolitan district council meeting, it was revealed that the council has engaged consultants a view to making such a submission.
Metropolitan district boss Kieran Lehane confirmed consultants had been appointed to “carry out an appraisal of the air quality, health and climate change elements of the applications and further submissions.”
Their report is expected to be completed this week, and a decision will then be taken on whether a submission is to be made to the EPA.
Cllr Prendiville said it was “only right” that this would happen, while Cllr Daniel Butler added he now expects the council to make a “strong submission”.
“Burning tyres is extremely dangerous, and produces dioxins and micro-particles that can be very damaging to our environment and health,” Cllr Prendiville said.
“We need to be moving away from such pollutive practices, and should be investing in recycling tyres, not burning them,” he added.
For its part, Irish Cement has consistently maintained its changes will not see an increase in emissions.
The firm has also said the reforms are vital to ensure the plant remains competitive – and has suggested that if they are not waved through, it would pose questions as to the future viability of its Limerick operation.
Cllr Butler, who represents Mungret, added: “I think there is a responsibility on the council to make a submission.
“All the councillors in City West and beyond have made [their opposition] very clear to the council executive, and there is a responsibility on people to represent the people’s views.”
Asked if he felt there would be a conflict of interest, since the council is still deliberating on a planning application for Irish Cement plans, Cllr Butler said the applications were separate.
The EPA will decide on whether Irish Cement can use the tyres and waste, while the council will decide on the physical infrastructure.
Irish Cement was not available for comment.