Thursday, 9 October 2008

Harbour toxic dump final report delayed

A department spokesman said the report had been due to be released last month but was being withheld as it was being reviewed by environmental experts in Britain.

He made the comments after Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney claimed the department was stalling on releasing the final report into the toxic waste.

The waste included highly carcinogenic material that was discovered at a site in Haulbowline last summer.

“We were initially promised the new site assessment would be completed in August,” said Mr Coveney. “It is now October and people are still none the wiser as to the toxicity of the site.

“People living and working in close proximity to Haulbowline have shown great restraint considering the likely tonnage of toxic waste at the site.”

The Cork South Central TD said he was concerned the delay in issuing the report could lead to excuses next week, post-budget, that money was not there to clean up the site.

“If there is a threat posed by toxic waste on a tidal site then the Government has a responsibility to act immediately and provide the funding necessary to protect people’s health,” Mr Coveney said.

He said the report should be published without delay, and before the budget.

The department spokes-man said Environment Minister John Gormley had arranged for the ongoing site assessment works, and the 2005 White Young Green report, to be reviewed by independent experts in order to offer reassurance to local communities that the scope of works, tests and analysis employed conform to best international practice in determining whether there exists any immediate health or environmental threat posed by the site.

“Professor Phillip Morgan of Sirius Geotechnical & Environmental and Dr Marcus Trett from Physalia Limited, Consultant & Forensic Ecologists have been appointed to carry out the peer review,” the department spokesman said.

He added that both the White Young Green and the peer review reports will be made available to the public once the minister and the department’s experts have examined them.

The spokesman added that experts in England were examining the reports following a request made by locals at a meeting in Cobh last month that was attended by Mr Gormley.

“Any recommendations arising out of these reports will inform the minister’s proposals to Government in respect of the future use of the site,” the spokesman said.

The assessment being carried out comprises testing the quality of surface water on the site, examining marine sediment and mussel bivalves in the vicinity, air monitoring and any health or environmental risks posed by recent works.

Irish Examiner

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