Cadmium in Skibbereen – How much is too much?
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Cadmium in Skibbereen – How much is too much?

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Cadmium. How much is too much? Any. Zero cadmium is good for you. Any more than that is bad for you. Really bad.

What is Cadmium? 

Cadmium is a soft, malleable, ductile, bluish-white divalent metal. It is similar in many respects to zinc but forms complex compounds. Unlike most other metals, cadmium is resistant to corrosion and is used as a protective plate on other metals. As a bulk metal, cadmium is insoluble in water and is not flammable; however, in its powdered form it may burn and release toxic fumes.

Cadmium exposure is a risk factor associated with a large number of illnesses including kidney disease, early atherosclerosis, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. Although studies show a significant correlation between cadmium exposure and occurrence of disease in human populations, a necessary molecular mechanism has not been identified. One hypothesis holds that cadmium is an endocrine disruptor and some experimental studies have shown that it can interact with different hormonal signaling pathways. For example, cadmium can bind to the estrogen receptor alpha, and affect signal transduction along the estrogen and MAPK signaling pathways at low doses.

The above are taken from Wikipedia. We are not experts on this. Are RTP Company or their Planning Application Consultants, Verde? On their website, , they describe themselves in the first line as ‘cost driven’. That actually comes before anything else. If I was an Environmental Consultancy, I might highlight other attributes before that.

For the second stage of the planning application, Verde produced a report entitled – Air Quality Report for proposed RTP Development Facility at Skibbereen, Co. Cork. 

The purpose of this report was to “clarify the nature and types of air emissions arising from the proposed emission stacks.”

Their clients, and this is important later on, state on their website : 

“With 18 product plants and a handful of sales offices located in major commerce centers around the world, we’re equipped to assist you, no matter your location.”

RTP, you’ll agree, probably know all there is to know about emissions, types of emissions and probably have all the data on hand for anyone who might need to use it when making a Planning Application Air Quality Report on their behalf. This would seem like common sense, or good business practice, or something.

Verde describe the process of production. Basically, the plastic raw material is melted at between 200-400C and remoulded into pellet form.

Who hasn’t melted plastic at some stage? Maybe not at 400C but you get the picture.

Here is where it gets a little curious. The report continues to the important stuff – the emissions. You would think they’d quote a lot of RTP Data here, however it seems not so.

“The process has the potential to generate dust, steam fumes and vapours from molten plastic compounds, pigments, additives, etc.” ( If you worry about that ‘etc’, you’re not the only one. ) “These emissions types are broad and not all dusts and VOC’s are of equal concern therefore in order to determine acceptable emission concentrations RTP has looked to other plastic or related processes for maximum emission data.”

Note : Volatile organic compounds, sometimes referred to as VOCs, are organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases. Along with carbon, they contain elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur or nitrogen.

Note : RTP has looked to other? What about their own data? Is this some new production method they are trying out in Ireland? 

Verde continue –

“The Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) has published a BAT Guidance Note on Best Available Techniques for the Surface Treatment of Metals and Plastic Materials.”

So, they are using EPA guidelines to illustrate their own production methods and the expected levels of emissions? Right?

They then state –

“The proposed facility will not involve any of these processes.”

“The proposed facitlity will also not involve the manufacture organic (sic) chemicals and therefore the limit values quoted are included only for reference.”

So what are the BAT Guidelines for emissions for the processes that the proposed facility WILL do? 

What about RTP Company data? 

“Due to the scale of the site and the processes that will be present, an EPA license is not required and the BAT limits do not apply. However, the facility will be designed to achieve the limits quoted. Based upon emission testing at other RTP plants in Europe, emissions are expected to be limited to well below regulatory emission limits.”

Any data? Maybe they are still waiting on the other RTP plants in Europe to get back to them or send on some spreadsheets. Maybe they don’t need them. Perhaps, all you have to do in such an application is say that according to these limits over here which don’t correspond to what we are doing, we are well within the limits required. Or something like that. It is hard to understand or see what is going on. Perhaps some day, Cork County Planners might illuminate the Irish public on this kind of Applicationese that is spoken or written.

Next page – Summary of Potential Air Emissions 

Carcinogenic Substances – Class I – Cadmium pigments may be used at the facility. 

Vaporous or Gaseous Inorganic Substances – Class II – Bromine fire retardant may be used at the facility.

Vaporous or Gaseous Inorganic Substances – Class IV – PPS Plastic can release sulphur oxides if overheated and degraded.

Inorganic Dust Particles – Class II – Cobalt, Nickel and Tin pigments may be used at the facility. Trace amounts of other Class II compounds are possible. 

Inorganic Dust Particles – Class III – Antimony fire retardants may be used at the facility. Copper pigments and stabilizers may be used at the facility. Trace amounts of other Class II compounds are possible. 

Volatile Organic Compounds – Class I – Trace amounts of aniline and other Class I hydrocarbons are possible.

Volatile Organic Compounds – Class II – Trace amounts of Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane and other Class II compounds are possible.


“May be used.”

“Can release.”

“Are possible.”


All the quotes are taken from the planning application which is available to buy from Cork County Council.

I’m not sure I understand what is going on. Maybe I am not supposed to understand what is going on. I am not a cost driven Environmental Consultant nor am I a Billion Dollar Plastic Company with facilities all over the world who are supposed to know what they are doing, what the effects are, what the emissions are and what they will be doing in Skibbereen.

But, it does not look like they know what they will be doing in Skibbereen.

It looks like maybe, possibly, could be, might be……

We do know there are Four 16 Metre Chimney Stacks for the maybe, might be, possibly, emissions.

We do know that they lie South West of Skibbereen and that the prevailing winds will blow them directly into the town 75% of the time when there is wind. We know this because we looked it up. We got the data. You can see it on our website. Unlike this Billion Dollar entity we do try to back up what we say.

And what we are finding is more and more unanswered questions. The biggest question for me now is WHY? What is being hidden from the public and the planners alike?