EU commissioner probes failure to fill in illegal lagoons

THE EU Commissioner for the Environment is investigating why this country has failed to remove all waste from, and fill in, illegal lagoons, despite being ordered to do so 13 months ago by the European Court.

Stavros Dimas is expected to issue a report shortly, following an official complaint by Munster MEP Kathy Sinnott.

Ms Sinnott, who visited the site at Ballard, Araglin last weekend, said she was determined to pursue the court ruling handed down in April, 2005. Locals have claimed that waste residue is still being stored in three large lagoons.

“I have asked the commissioner if it is acceptable whether 13 months later nothing has been done.”

Ms Sinnot said she had also asked Mr Dimas if he believed, judging by the site’s history, that it is a suitable place for a €75 million anaerobic waste digester.

Valeco has applied for permission to build the waste digester. To placate locals it has promised to destroy the lagoons, which were created by a now-defunct company.

The Department of the Environment and Cork County Council were both contacted by the Irish Examiner yesterday.

Brendan Quinn, a spokesman for the department, said the fact the lagoons are still in existence 13 months after the court’s ruling was a matter for the Office of Environmental Enforcement and Cork County Council. He declined to comment on Ms Sinnot’s complaint to the commissioner.

Cork County Council claimed it had removed 38,000 tonnes of waste from the lagoons. In addition, two samples of what remains in them are being tested.

“We are awaiting the results to see has there been any contamination. We will take whatever action is deemed necessary on foot of the results of those tests,” a council spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Cork East Green Party candidate, Sarah Iremonger, said locals had no faith in the authorities to properly monitor Valeco after enduring years of an illegal waste operation on their doorstep.

“How can anyone have faith in the further development of a waste management facility of this scale on this site with what is already going on there?”

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