Written Answers. - Baldonnel (Dublin) Waste Transfer Station.

594.

asked the Minister for the Environment if, in view of the concern expressed by the St. John's Meadows and Green Park Residents' Association, Clondalkin, County Dublin, he will make a statement on the present position regarding the proposed toxic waste facility at Baldonnel, County Dublin; and if he is aware of the strong opposition of the association to this proposal.

I propose to issue a public statement in relation to the proposal to establish a waste transfer station at Baldonnel. Following is the text of the statement:

Proposal to establish a Waste Transfer Station at Baldonnel, County Dublin

The Minister for the Environment, Mr. Liam Kavanagh, TD, has decided to carry out a review of the need for a central waste transfer station for hazardous wastes, the viability in present conditions of a facility on the lines decided upon by the Government in May 1981 and the possibility of making alternative arrangements for hazardous waste disposal services of the kind which are necessary to serve the needs of industry and the environment.

The proposal to provide a central waste transfer station was developed because of the inadequacy of the facilities available in this country in 1981 to cater for the safe disposal of hazardous wastes which could seriously prejudice the operation and expansion of existing industry and inhibit the attraction of new industry. In addition, there was public disquiet about unacceptable waste disposal practices and the implications of these for public health and the environment. Against this background, the Government announced a national waste disposal strategy providing for a central facility, backed up by a network of co-disposal sites at which land-fillable wastes could be accommodated. The central facility was intended as a depot to which hazardous waste producers who did not have satisfactory alternative means of disposal could send their wastes for assembly in categories and quantities suitable for export to approved disposal facilities abroad.

While there have been some unavoidable delays, plans for a facility designed to the highest possible environmental and safety standards have now been virtually completed. In the meantime, however, there have been developments which could have a bearing on the proposal. In particular, consultations with private sector interests have established that the waste disposal services now being provided have developed to a considerable degree since the central waste transfer station was decided upon and that there may well be an interest in expanding these services and providing new facilities. In addition, recent developments suggest that the continuing availability of the export option for certain wastes may be in question. For these reasons, and because the planned facility would provide only part of the total hazardous waste disposal service needed by industry, the Minister considers it essential that all aspects of the proposal should now be reviewed.

The Minister will be meeting the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Mr. Patrick Jenkin, in London next month for discussions on a number of matters of environmental concern. The Minister proposes to take the opportunity to discuss with the Secretary of State the question of exports of hazardous wastes for disposal in the UK, taking account of the coming into operation in October 1985 of the EC directive on transfrontier shipment of toxic and dangerous wastes.

With a view to exploring further the possibility of developing other options for dealing with hazardous wastes, the Minister is inviting interests concerned to submit to him, within two months, any proposals they may have for the development of existing hazardous waste disposal services, or the establishment of new facilities to deal with these wastes. Such proposals or facilities could relate to depots, transfer stations, or facilities for the incineration, solidification, recovery or other treatment of wastes. The Minister would be particularly interested to learn of possible joint-venture operations between existing Irish firms and firms which operate, or have access to, a range of disposal facilities abroad.

The Minister proposes to establish a small expert group to assist those interested in developing proposals (for example by giving them access to relevant information), to assess whatever proposals emerge, and to make recommendations to him. It will be the Minister's intention to consider, on the basis of these recommendations, whether, and to what extent, he could assist in the development by private sector interests of suitable schemes, or whether the establishment of the central waste facility should be proceeded with.