ESB faces €1.5m bill over illegally dumped asbestos

ESB faces a bill of up to €1.5m to dispose of asbestos illegally dumped on its land in Co Cork.

The semi-state body may also be lumbered with the full cost of the clean-up, which also involves other waste.

The site at Coolcower in Macroom borders the ESB’s major reservoir system on the River Lee.

Certain aspects of the illegal dumping on the site have been dealt with in the courts. However, the asbestos product waste was only found in recent months and ESB emphasised: “This waste is not connected with any ESB activity.”

A spokesman yesterday said the clean-up bill would be “significant” and said the company was considering how the cost could be recovered.

ESB acquired the land at Coolcower in 1956 as part of the Lee Hydro Scheme. The Carrigadrohid reservoir supplies drinking water to about 95,000 people, but it has not been contaminated.

In Jul 1999, ESB issued circuit court proceedings against a trespasser “in respect of the unauthorised use” of that land.

A court order granted on Feb 1, 2006, which was subsequently affirmed by the High Court, prevented the individual trespassing again upon the ESB-owned land.

Two years later, ESB gained another court order to remove nearly 150 scrapped vehicles which had been dumped on the site.

Late last year, however, Cork County Council asked the ESB to remove domestic waste from Coolcower, that had been dumped there.

“During the removal of this waste, asbestos- containing material was discovered. This waste is not connected with any ESB activity,” said the company spokesman.

Work to remove the material began on Apr 10 and is continuing.

“The remediation works are progressing to schedule and it is anticipated the final site works at the location will be completed within a number of months.

“ESB is working closely with Cork County Council in relation to this project, while the Health & Safety Authority and Environmental Protection Agency are being kept briefed,” he said.

The clean-up involves excavating soil at the site, while asbestos was being “removed and bagged using appropriate control measures”.

It is being taken from the site by a licensed disposal contractor and transported to a facility in Germany where it is destroyed safely.

Macroom mayor Cllr Owen McCarthy said the ESB had to build a road into the site in order to remove the waste.

“The work is ongoing there for months and they have a 24/7 security presence at the site. I’d be hopeful that if they are spending all that money, the site would be cleaned immaculately.”


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