Department of Defence to release report on toxic harbour site

A DEPARTMENT of Defence report on the possible impacts of Haulbowline Island’s toxic waste on the Irish naval headquarters in Cork Harbour will be made public next week.

Defence Minister Willie O’Dea said in September that preliminary findings showed there is no significant risk to the health of staff at the naval base.

The report involved monitoring of 42 soil samples and air testing at eight different locations.

However, the more comprehensive Department of the Environment tests, conducted by consultants White Young Green (WYG), are still awaited.

They were commissioned by Environment Minister John Gormley after the Irish Examiner broke the story about the full extent of waste material buried on the former Irish Ispat steelworks site.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley said yesterday that the WYG report has been completed.

However, it is being peer reviewed — to get a second expert opinion — to ensure it is of the highest standard possible, he said.

“It is a very detailed report and the peer review aspect is coming to an end.

“It has taken longer than expected but the minister is anxious to ensure it’s of the highest quality possible.”

However, Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney criticised the delay and praised the Department of Defence for completing its report swiftly. Its findings will be outlined to navy staff next week.

“They didn’t raise expectations. They got on with it quietly and they are quite right to inform naval staff first about its results,” he said. “In contrast with that, the Department of the Environment gave us timelines, and assurances that the site was safe before they knew the details. They have created worry and resentment by their handling of the whole issue.

“People have lost patience with the Department of the Environment.

“The goodwill for the minister has now evaporated. People are exasperated at the lack of information on the site and of its content.”

But Mr Gormley’s spokesman said the WYG peer review should be completed within days.

The minister will then sign off on it before briefing local groups first, hopefully by the end of the month, he said.

Its preliminary findings show there is no immediate health risk from waste material on the Haulbowline site.


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