05 July 2008

Department orders health risk analysis

Irish Examiner 5/7/08

THE Department of Defence has ordered an environmental air and soil analysis at the site of the naval base in Haulbowline in Cork harbour to investigate if there's any threat to sailors from hazardous waste buried in the area.

The football pitch used by naval staff has been declared "out of bounds" by the department because of its proximity to the old steel plant where the toxic waste is buried.

The analysis work began on Wednesday by environmental experts, RPS, and is separate to work being carried out by the Department of the Environment.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Fine Gael Cork South Central TD Simon Coveney said the head of the Naval Service had written to the Department of the Environment, "expressing serious concerns" about the health threat posed.

A Department of Defence spokesman said: "This department continues to accept the assurances of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government that there are no risks arising from the presence of the waste material. It is expected our survey by RPS will confirm this.

"The Naval Service has informed us its Health and Safety staff are in regular dialogue with the Department of the Environment concerning the remediation of the ISPAT site."

Labour TD Ciaran Lynch has written to Environment Minister John Gormley, looking for details on what happened to the toxic waste that was removed from the site. Mr Lynch is seeking clarity on suggestions that the waste was used for the construction of roads. "A substantial quantity of slag-heap material was apparently removed from the island over the past decade - but nobody seems clear on where the material went. There are now real concerns about such material being in contact with ground water," he said.

"I would like Minister Gormley to confirm whether or not material was removed from slag heaps at Haulbowline to be used in road construction and to indicate the quantity of material removed.

"I would also like to know whether that material was examined for toxicity and was whether it was treated. Minister Gormley should also identify the company that removed the materials, and provide an indication as to where it may have ended up."


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