Site clean-up bill soars from €30m to €300m

THE projected cost of cleaning up the former Irish Steel/Ispat site in Cork Harbour has rocketed in recent years, from an estimated €30 million in 2004 to €300m today.

An unpublished report compiled in 2002 on behalf of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources — which has been seen by the Irish Examiner — found that the likely environmental management cost of the site would be €30m.

This included a sea wall, at a cost of €7.5m, for which planning permission was secured in order to protect the sea from pollutants, but was never built.

Of this €30m, environmental experts Enviros Aspinwall estimated that €11.5m should be billed to Irish Ispat for their part in contaminating the site before closing down in 2001, with the State eventually regaining control of the Haulbowline location.

The 2002 report included an assessment of possible future land use for various parts of the 27-acre Irish Steel site.

Constraints which could prevent redevelopment included the existence of “potentially contaminated land” at the steelworks area, in the dock basin and at the East Tip of the island, along with “remediation requirements to render risk from toxic substances to end users” at these three locations.

The experts envisaged environmental remediation works being complete by the end of 2005, with a view to a “potential handover to developer and/or Navy” in 2006, at the earliest.

Following the closure of the Irish Ispat works in 2001, the government of the day embarked on a legal action against the site liquidator and Ispat in an attempt to secure funding for the clean-up, but this ultimately failed.

Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal effectively walked away from the entire operation in June 2001 after business ceased at Irish Ispat.

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