The Environmental Protection Agency has asked Cork City Council for a full report on a vast illegal dump on the northside.
The EPA has confirmed that while it has no remit in relation to the Ellis’s Yard site in Ballyvolane, it has asked the council to outline its plans for addressing the situation.
The council said it is in the process of arranging for a clean-up of the site. The operation is expected to cost tens of thousands of euro.
City Hall has also admitted that legal action or fines are unlikely to deter widespread illegal dumping activity blighting the council-owned site.
Last month, the Irish Examiner highlighted the scale of the problem affecting the site, located alongside a Traveller halting site.
It followed a spate of suspicious rubbish fires on the site over the summer which had to be tackled by several units of Cork City Fire Brigade.
The blazes generated thick acrid smoke which forced local residents to close windows and doors.
The fires caused concern given the unknown nature of the material dumped on the site and the potential dioxins in the smoke.
It led to calls for the EPA to launch an investigation into activity on the site.
While the council is co- ordinating a cross-departmental response, involving its environmental and housing directorates, to tackle the site, the EPA said it has no remit in this case.
A spokesperson for the agency said the National Environment Complaints Line received a call about the site on July 16, which was then passed on to the city council to investigate.
The spokesperson said on foot of this newspaper’s coverage of the issue last month, it contacted the council “instructing them to investigate this issue, contact the complainant directly, and provide a report to the EPA”.
“We are yet to receive the report and a reminder email has been issued to the council,” she said.
It is understood the council is trying to secure funding for the clean-up. It could be several weeks before work actually starts.
The council’s head of environment, Valerie O’Sullivan, said City Hall has no option but to engage in regular clean-ups caused by persistent and criminal large-scale dumping of waste and lighting of fires.
“Otherwise we are allowing this behaviour to negatively impact the environment and the health and wellbeing of the neighbouring areas and communities,” she said.
“Our CCTV efforts seem futile, and have not only been the target of damage, but appear not to act as any deterrent.
“Even if we proceed to the courts with footage, the likelihood is that fines will issue, possibly remain unpaid, and the behaviour will continue. This is not really a deterrent either.
“It continues with blatant disregard for the law, the environment, the community, and the expenditure of taxpayers’ money which should be much better used on other things."
“Unless An Garda Síochána police this site constantly, and enforce the law, I believe this will continue in its current cycle.
“The alternative is to allow the site remain in this appalling condition and indeed to worsen, which would be the wrong thing to do.”