29 July 2008

Irish Steel consultants fail to check toxicity

Irish Examiner 29/7/08

CONSULTANTS charged with assessing the level of contamination at the former Irish Steel plant in Cork Harbour have not sought a report on the extent of hazardous toxins shipped from the site to Germany.

This emerged yesterday at a Cork County Council meeting when Councillor Tim Lombard (FG) said he was horrified to discover this oversight when he questioned the consultants. The Irish Government was alerted to the potential hazard a couple of years ago, when German authorities who tested the exported waste found it highly toxic. "I was most alarmed when I found this out. The consultants said they hadn't asked for a full breakdown of the German report and agreed it was a good idea to do it. It's absolutely farcical," Mr Lombard said.

Meanwhile, calls were made on Minister for the Environment John Gormley to resign amid claims that he was failing to come clean about the true level of contamination. Labour's Cllr John Mulvihill said he was disgusted that the Green Party minister had refused to meet a delegation of politicians on a visit to Dublin last week. Instead the delegation met with consultants who are monitoring the Haulbowline slag heaps, which were found to contain the highly carcinogenic chromium 6.

There was some surprise when Fianna Fáil's Cllr Deirdre Forde said Minister Gormley should consider his position, especially as FF county councillors aren't known to criticise members of their junior coalition partners so openly.

"If people in Dublin think this is going to be brushed under carpet they haven't banked on Mulvihill," the Labour councillor added.

Cllr Kevin O'Keeffe (FF) found widespread support when he asked the council to write to Minister Gormley seeking a meeting.

Mr Mulvihill asked county manager, Martin Riordan, to provide a report on what tests, if any, had been done on some of the recycled slag taken from the site and used for building roads. Mr Riordan promised to provide him with a report. He said the recycled slag was used as chip on roads from 2000-2002. "We had no reason to believe there was any cause for concern," Mr Riordan said.


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