23 September 2007

Dust problem at Passage West

Dust problem at Passage West
By Leo McMahon
Southern Star (Passage West/Monkstown News) 23/9/08

A meeting between residents, town councillors and environmental and enforcement officials from Cork County Council was agreed following a deputation from Mr. Joe Snow to the September meeting of Passage West Town Council to highlight the problem of dust emissions from the local dockyard.

Standing orders were suspended on a proposal by Mayor Dominick Donnelly to allow Mr. Snow, a former town councillor who resides near the dockyard, to address the meeting on behalf of affected residents.

He stated that a huge bulk carrier ship with animal feed arrived at the dockyard at 7pm Wednesday, August 22 and by time it had unloaded its cargo and departed on Monday, August 27, there was what described as serious pollution over a wide area.

"Several houses, including my own, had to be power washed down," said Mr. Snow who pointed out that the problems of air pollution from dust and noise was going on for the past 26 years. Dust was caused by aninal feed, coal, briquettes. There was also noise and exhausts from cranes, lorries and boats. Overall, it was an appalling situation, indeed worse, he contended sinced the dockyard was again storing and loading scrap metal following the closure of Ispat (Irish Steel), Haulbowline.

He voiced strong crticism of the county council for a situation in which there were totally inadequate planning conditions attached to operations in the dockyard including the large number of heavy goods vehicles which could luse the site daily. He further stated that he could produce records and submitted newspaper reports to show that enforcement regarding air monitoring, wind speed, noise and was not taking place.

With a major and welcome residential and commercial waterfront development planned for the dockyard involving the company on site and a previous planning application by the latter for a jetty, there were conditions which the county council could enforce, especially as port activity was likely to continue for some time, and affected residents were demanding this, said Mr. Snow.

As a councillor back in 2004, he and fellow members met with senior environmental officials in the county council and the company about the ongoing problems and the latter undertook to install two more water sprayers. Since then, he claimed, the problem of emissions had continued on all sides of the dockyard site and in his opinion the sprayers were "a joke" and ineffective at a section of harbour where there was a tidal difference of around 14 feet.

"One way or the other, the present situation must be dealt with urgently and a quality of life restored to the residents who have suffered for 26 years" he stated. Ultimately, dockyard operations would have to relocate because efforts to control over wind, the noise from generators, the volume of heavy traffic, dust or pollution had failed resulting in debris on cars, properties, roads and gardens up to 450 metres away necessitating power washing of dwellings on numerous occasions in some instances.

Town councillors unanimously supported Mr. Snow's request for a meeting to be arranged between themselves, senior officials in County Hall and residents.

Mr. Michael Murphy said the environmental department should be told the water sprayers were a waste of time. Mr. Jim Murphy said he saw for himself, during the recent visit of a ship, the dust on the street at Ferry Point and said he didn't know how people could get to sleep with the noise at all hours. Ms. Jo. Kelleher, a resident of Glenbrook Wharf, said this relatively new development was due to be repainted but was recently covered in dust as were cars.

Both Mr. John Daly and Ms. Marcia D'Alton queried the level of monitoring being carried out by County Hall officials and what data was available. Mr. Snow said he had dealt with ten chief environmental officers over the past 26 years and the problem was as bad as ever for the residents he had been asked to represent.

Mr. J. Murphy formally proposed that the meeting, as sought by Mr. Snow, be held as soon as possible, Ms. D'Alton seconded and it was unanimously agreed with Mr. Donnelly remarking "enough is enough".