Pressure on to clean up toxic waste site

ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan is expected to face a barrage of questions about what the Government intends to do with a toxic waste dump when he visits Cork shortly.

The toxic dump was identified in Haulbowline, in Cork harbour, in the summer of 2008.

Cobh-based Cllr John Mulvihill (Lab), who strongly criticised previous environment minister John Gormley over his handling of the issue, said he would seek answers about what the Government plans to do to make it safe.

He said: “We’ve had promises and promises. It’s time now to know what’s going to happen.”

Mr Hogan is set to address county councillors in Cork on May 9.

Cllr Mulvihill is also likely to pressurise Health Minister James Reilly to keep a pre-election promise to carry out a baseline health study.

The harbour town has a 37%, higher-than-normal cancer rate and, while it hasn’t been proved to be linked to the dump, Mr Mulvihill wants further tests conducted.

Chromium 6, one of the most carcinogenic elements known to man, was discovered in the dump along with a number of heavy metals, some of which may have seeped into the harbour.

John Gormley previously promised a baseline health study in the lower harbour, but, when he suggested it to then health minister Mary Harney, she refused.

“A baseline health study was one of the foremost issues which needs to be addressed,” Cllr Barbara Murray (FG) said.

Cllr Sean O’Connor (Ind), who also lives in Cobh, said he hopes Mr Hogan would outline how the department intends to make the dump safe.

The previous government appointed a task force under the direction of the OPW to examine the site. However, there was outrage in Cobh when it was revealed the task force didn’t have the remit to suggest how it would be remediated.

Instead, it was instructed to come up with ideas for future use of the site.

County manager Martin Riordan said he didn’t know if the task force had yet delivered its findings and would also be seeking an update on what was happening with the dump.

Cllr Michael Hegarty (FG) said he expects that the four TDs representing the Cork East constituency would put pressure on the government to find a solution.

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