Airborne chemicals ‘a bigger worry’ than contaminated water

THE owner of a company that specialises in water treatment said yesterday she would be more concerned about airborne chemicals around Cobh than water contaminated by the toxic dump in Haulbowline.

Residents near the dump have taken water samples for analysis amid rising health fears.

Several samples of sea water were taken from Cork harbour on Saturday close to the polluted East Tip area after the dump site at the edge of the former Irish Steel plant was breached and flooded by storm waters.

“Whatever metals in

the slag-heap may have leached into the harbour would have been greatly diluted,” said Eileen Holland who, along with her husband, Bill, runs Acorn Water, a water treatment company based in Bandon, Co Cork.

“The action of the tide, with the sea going in and out, would have seen to this,” said Ms Holland.

“A lot of it would simply have gone out to sea.”

The Hollands, who are both originally from Cobh, established Acorn Water in 1991.

It is now a leading company in the water treatment and environmental analysis industry with clients as far away as Asia.

“A far bigger concern I would have comes from the pattern of wind flow around the island. Apart from Irish Steel, there have been a lot of other polluters in the area, like NET at Marino Point. I knew people in Irish Steel who worked on the factory floor and lived to a great age. My mother still lives in Cobh and she was 92 last week.

“Yet, at the same time, there were young people dying of cancer in Cobh, most of them living on high ground and not in the valleys. There is one particular road on high ground in Cobh where 10 years ago every single house had someone dying of cancer.”

Ms Holland also recalled the smell of ammonia from the NET plant on occasions. “It would take your breath away.”

She said a particular concern she has had over the years is the mix of airborne chemicals and the effect that this has had on human and animal health in the area.

“I would be less alarmed about contaminants in the water than most people living in Cobh.

“But there are other far more serious issues with airborne chemicals, which the Environmental Protection Agency should address.”

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