21 August 2008

What's the delay with the new "Haulbowline site report"? - Coveney

Simon Coveney TD (FG)
20 August 2008

Fine Gael's Spokesman on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Simon Coveney TD, Cork South Central, today (Wednesday) called on the Minister for the Environment to publicly clarify what he and his Department are doing to reassure people in Cork Harbour about the hazardous waste at the Haulbowline former Irish steel site.

"The problems at the Haulbowline site haven't gone away. The hazardous and toxic waste that remains in the site is still of real concern to people living and working in the Cork harbour area. While political pressure on this issue for Minister Gormley abated in recent weeks, due to his promise of a new site evaluation and reports on air and water quality, people are now impatient for results. The new report was promised in early July and was due to be completed within a month. Yet we've heard no evidence from the Minister to reassure people that the site poses no continuing threat to public health.

"The Minister promised two things, to reassure people following the public outcry after a series of concerns were expressed about the danger to public health and the marine eco-system posed by toxic waste at the site. He said he would undertake a rapid and comprehensive new assessment of the site and he promised a public health audit for the surrounding area. He continues to say that there is no risk to public health, but people simply don't believe him in the absence of hard evidence. All of the previous assessments and reports on the site point to a real and significant risk.

"The Minister needs to update local residents and local public representatives on the progress being made in evaluating the site and on the health audit. Either he can prove that no risk exists or we all need to face up to the reality of the dangers and clean the site up as soon as possible.

"The Irish Steel site is unique in that it is the only former steel manufacturing site in Ireland and therefore it needs to be dealt with as a once-off large scale clean-up project. I am convinced, based on past reports, that this site does pose risks to health and the environment and that the only solution to this expensive problem is the complete removal of all hazardous material from the site. I will be happy to be proven wrong by an up-to-date site assessment, but I doubt that will be the case".


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