26 June 2008

Minister misleads Dail on Govt handling of hazardous waste in Cork

Simon Coveney TD (FG) 26/6/08

Govt's handling of the issue is grossly negligent.

Speaking in the Dail this afternoon (Thursday) I accused Minister of State Maire Hoctor of misleading the Dail by claiming that during the past five years, only a surface investigation has been conducted of the former ISPAT site in Cork Harbour.

I made this accusation during a debate on a Private Notice Question put down by myself and Cork TDs David Stanton, Deirdre Clune, Sean Sherlock and Ciaran Lynch on the issue in the Dail this afternoon.

If what Minister of State Hoctor is saying is true, then the Government has deliberately ignored what everyone suspected to be subsurface contamination at the site.

If on the other hand, as is common knowledge, a subsurface investigation has taken place, then the Minister has deliberately misled the Dail, and is complicit in a cover-up of the Government's knowledge as to the extent of the hazardous material. If this is the case, and Government Ministers have been sitting on information and have not exposed the true extent of hazardous material on the site, their actions can only be described as grossly negligent.

This is an issue of huge concern for residents of Ringaskiddy, people working in the naval base in Haulbowline and in the maritime college. It is also of concern to residents in Cobh and the thousands of people who use the harbour for recreational purposes.

The Government needs to be upfront and honest, expose the full extent of hazardous material on the site, and put in place a short-term plan to clean the site up and guarantee public safety. Because of the level of suspicion and anger, nothing else will restore public confidence on this issue.


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