13 July 2008

Toxic threat on Haulbowline island probed

John Mooney
The Sunday Times 13/7/08

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have asked the government for copies of environmental reports which outline the type of toxic waste buried at Haulbowline island in Cork and the threat it poses

The HSA will examine whether the government and other state agencies took the necessary measures to protect council and construction workers employed to do works at the site of the former Irish Steel plant.

Scientific reports made available to the Department of the Environment have recorded the presence of toxic materials and PCBs, cancer-causing particles which are invisible to the naked eye, at Haulbowline.

It is not known whether staff employed to clean up the site used safety measures that anticipated PCB contamination or exposure to chromium, another toxic chemical found at the site.

The contractors hired to clean up the site say they were not provided with environment reports which indicated the presence of PCB toxins and other dangerous substances.

HSA inspectors visited the former steel works last week and asked council officials to erect fencing around certain areas for safety. The inspection followed complaints from residents and Stephen Griffin, an environmental consultant appointed to oversee the removal of waste from the site this year.

His contract was terminated last month, after he raised concerns of a health threat posed by toxic sludge at the site. Some 1m tonnes of toxic waste is believed to be buried on the island.


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