ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley has revealed further tests are to be carried out on an island in Cork harbour where a toxic waste dump was discovered two years ago.
The minister made the announcement as people living in Cobh — which has one of the highest cancer rates in the country — vowed to fight tooth and nail to have the dump cleaned up and to get the Government to reverse its decision not to undertake a baseline health study in the area.
More than €50 million has been spent so far on cleaning up the toxic waste dump on Haulbowline island.
Mr Gormley insisted tests on the island site have shown no threat to health — despite the obvious and serious concerns of people living in a town which has a 37% higher cancer rate than normal.
The minister confirmed further tests are to be carried out shortly on soil samples which will be removed from under the former Irish Steel plant which went into liquidation in 2001.
He also stated the results of the tests will be made public.
Chromium 6, one of the most deadliest carcinogens, was discovered at the site in 2008.
Hundreds of people attended a meeting in the town earlier this week organised by the Cork Harbour Health Study (GHHS) group.
Serious concern was expressed about the high cancer rates in the area.
People also highlighted other ‘cluster’ illnesses, as well as claiming that the area had a higher than average percentage of babies born with health abnormalities.
CHHS chairman Amy Cullen said nothing less than a thorough health study of the lower harbour area and a full clean-up of the site would satisfy the group.
Deputy David Stanton recently revealed through Dáil questions that Health Minister Mary Harney had vetoed a promised baseline health study.
He also discovered a working group, set up by the OPW to decide on the dump’s future use, didn’t have the remit to examine any health issues or remediation works.
MEP Seán Kelly (FG) has already raised the issue with the EU Commission and has vowed to continue to fight for a clean-up and health study at European level.
Ms Cullen said a number of former contract workers who had been involved in an earlier clean-up at the site had attended their meeting and expressed concern over their future well-being, especially as some of their colleagues’ health had deteriorated considerably.
“Nobody should have any doubt that we fight both at home and in Europe to get what we want and deserve,” Ms Cullen said.
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