Ireland considers national ban on bituminous coal and petcoke

The Irish Department for Environment and Local Government has launched a consultation paper on a potential nation-wide ban on the marketing, sale and distribution bituminous coal and petcoke.

The marketing and sale of bituminous coal has been banned in Dublin and Cork since 1990 and 1995 respectively, with Arklow, Drogheda, Cundalk, Limerick and Wexford included in the ban in 1998, and a further five areas included last year. The ban in these areas was on a precautionary basis following an analysis of air quality, and since the ban, all the areas have shown a significant improvement in terms of recorded smoke levels.

“I think the time is now right to consider whether or not the ban should apply on a national basis,” said Secretary of state for the Environment and Local Government Dan Wallace.

“The localised bans on bituminous coal have proven beneficial to the more vulnerable sections of the community such as the young, the elderly and those suffering from respiratory illnesses,” said Wallace. “I think it is only fair that we consider extending these benefits to everyone.”

The ban on petcoke, a fuel made from refined oil residues, is also being considered due to fears that a ban solely on bituminous coal would significantly increase the use of the fuel. If not used correctly, petcoke can be dangerous, spitting and burning out of grates, and has a sulphur content which can be more than double that of bituminous coal, which makes it unsuitable at a time when Ireland is attempting to achieve a 76% cut in sulphur dioxide emissions by 2010.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie