THE Office of Public Work (OPW) has admitted it still has not set up an expert group to deal with tonnes of toxic waste dumped in Cork harbour – seven months after being told to do so.
The Irish Examiner revealed the existence of the toxic dump at Haulbowline in June 2008. It contained traces of the lethal carcinogenic chromium 6.
Last July, Environment Minister John Gormley said he had asked the OPW to form a “working group” which would examine the how to deal with the site.
The OPW yesterday issued a statement claiming it had produced “draft terms of reference” for the group which were being circulated. “The working group will be convened upon receipt of feedback,” the statement added.
Cllr John Mulvihill, who has fought to get the site rendered safe, said: “This is a very serious matter. People will be up in arms. We’re being treated with contempt.”
The Department of Defence has applied to dredge up to 36,000 tonnes of silt from the harbour at Haulbowline to enable navy ships to pass to and from their base safely. This was last done six years ago and the Naval Service says it must be repeated to maintain operations standards.
Mr Mulvihill said there was a risk that this silt had been contaminated by seepage from the toxic dump.
The firm which worked on cleaning up the site, Louis J O’Regan Ltd, is seeking €114 million in damages from the Department of the Environment for loss due to a breaches of a partnership agreement.
Six eastern Europeans who worked on the site are also seeking damages from the contractor claiming they were contaminated by chemicals as a result of flawed safety measures.
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