Work is due to start shortly on clearing gantry cranes and other scrap metal from a toxic dump in Cork harbour, as a prelude to making the site safe and transforming it into a public park with playing pitches.
Cork County Council is overseeing the €61m project at the East Tip on Haulbowline Island, close to the Naval Service headquarters.
Council engineers have been working on the project since mid-2011 on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and are now preparing for the major stage of the work.
Cormac Ó Súilleabháin, a senior county council engineer, who is also the project manager for the site’s remediation, said tender documents will be issued next month for phase one of the project.
“This will involve the removal of old gantry cranes, tyres and other scrap which are on the site.
“We hope to undertake this demolition and removal work during the summer,” Mr Ó Súilleabháin said.
The existence of heavy metals and highly carcinogenic Chromium-6 at the site was revealed by the Irish Examiner in June 2008.
Some of the material was removed to Germany for disposal but the county council decided the best option was to cap the site and turn it into a public amenity.
An Bord Pleanála gave its approval for the remediation project following an oral hearing which took place two years ago.
The hearing heard Mary O’Leary, a leading environmental campaigner with CHASE (Cork Harbour for a Safe Environment) say her organisation approved of the council’s project.
The roadway leading onto Haulbowline Island has been improved and the bridge connecting it with Ringaskiddy has been strengthened to allow the removal of heavy scrap metal and the bringing in of an estimated 50,000 tonnes of rock armour and top soil needed to finish off the project.
Mr Ó Súilleabháin said that the road on the island leading to the East Tip will also have to be upgraded.
The council compiled an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and said tests had been carried out on water quality in Cork harbour which showed there wasn’t any measurable impact on it as a result of possible leakage from the site.
However, the council will put rock armour around the perimeter of the site to ensure as much as possible that waves don’t erode the site.
Mr Ó Súilleabháin said that once all the scrap is removed the rock armour will be put in place and the interior will then be filled with topsoil and landscaped.
“We hope to have that completed by the end of July, 2018. I’m very positive about the plans and everything is going to plan and on schedule,” he said.
When it is finished, the nine-hectare site will be transformed into a public park with walkways and cycleways. It will also have a car park, a number of viewing areas and some sports pitches.
Sharon Corcoran, the council’s director of environmental services, has said the project will fit in nicely with the overall plan to create more tourist attractions in the harbour, such as the re-development of Spike Island and Fort Camden, Crosshaven.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved