Friday 12 September 2008

No toxic threat to Navy from steel site, says report

A GOVERNMENT report has revealed that toxic waste at the former Irish Steel site does not pose an unacceptable risk to personnel at the nearby Naval Service base.

The findings came as Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said he hoped the report, by independent consultants RPS, would ease any health concerns amongst Navy personnel.

The report's findings were confirmed 24 hours before Environment Minister John Gormley visits Cobh today where he will meet harbour communities concerned about the claims surrounding toxic waste on Haulbowline Island.

Last July it was claimed that 500,000 tons of toxic waste now lie on the island with one former worker describing the contamination as so bad "it's like a mini-Chernobyl". Among the toxins discovered were lead, mercury and Chromium 6. The latter is one of the most dangerous carcinogens.


But yesterday Mr O'Dea insisted Navy personnel who share Haulbowline Island with the former Irish Steel-Irish Ispat site had no need to worry.

"There were 42 soil samples taken and the air was tested in eight different locations. The gist of the report, as I understand it, is that there is no unacceptable risk," the Limerick TD said. "My officials just got the report yesterday, I haven't had a chance to read it myself yet.

"I hope that what has been found by these independent consultants will be reassuring to the staff here in the Naval base in Haulbowline," he added.

"The main thing I want to tell you is that the report found no unacceptable level of risk. That is the language typically used by organisations like that -- nobody says there is absolutely no risk."

Meanwhile, Mr Gormley visits Cobh today after Cork county councillors passed a motion of no confidence in his handling of the Haulbowline toxic waste controversy.

Ralph Riegel
Irish Independent

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