21 July 2008

Workers 'should blow the whistle'

By Ralph Riegel
The Independent 21/7/08

FORMER Irish Steel workers have been urged to provide whatever information they can about toxic materials on Haulbowline Island amid concerns that a "code of secrecy" surrounds goings-on at the steel mill over the past 50 years.

Now, former Irish Steel/Irish Ispat workers have been asked to supply whatever information they can -- on an anonymous basis if required -- to assist in the full site assessment of the Cork island. The call from environmental groups came as one former Irish Steel worker described as "frightening" the quantity and nature of material disposed of at the site over the course of five decades.

Environmental groups now want specific information to be passed on the Department of the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about precisely what was disposed on Haulbowline Island and where it was dumped.

However, one former Irish Steel worker admitted that former staff have been reluctant to comment on precisely what happened at the mill for a number of reasons. The man -- who asked to be unnamed -- said that Haulbowline Island was the focus of so much toxic material that it ranked as "a mini-Chernobyl".

"You have to remember that fears about the future of the Irish Steel jobs were first raised more than 20 years ago. People were worried that if they made waves about what was going on, it might cost everyone their jobs," he said.


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