THE Cabinet is expected to sign off today on a €40 million package to begin the clean-up of one of Ireland’s largest toxic waste dumps.
After years of surveys and reports on the contaminated former Irish Steel/Irish Ispat plant in Cork Harbour, the Cabinet is poised to approve the setting aside of €20m in the 2012 budget and €20m in the 2013 budget to tackle the site on Haulbowline island.
The site contains slag heaps — byproducts of the steel-making process — including the deadly carcinogen chromium 6 and a number of heavy metals.
Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Simon Coveney will seek approval for the package at this morning’s Cabinet meeting.
"I am confident they will sign off on this," Mr Coveney said last night.
"Despite the difficult economic conditions, we are planning to set aside €40m over the next two years to clean up this site.
"This is a strong signal of intent — a strong statement that we are serious about tacking this issue."
Mr Coveney said the Government has a legal obligation to put a proper framework around how the site is managed.
Mr Coveney volunteered earlier this year to chair an inter-agency task-force, involving government departments, the Environmental Protection Agency and Cork County Council, to examine the Haulbowline site, where some 500,000 tonnes of toxic waste are dumped.
The Irish Examiner first highlighted the Haulbowline toxic dump scandal in June 2008 when environmental consultant Stephen Griffin blew the whistle.
He was one of several subcontractors employed by the state to remove some of the hazardous materials from the polluted island.