EU asked to intervene in row over clean-up of toxic waste
Published 06/09/2010 | 05:00
THE European Parliament has been challenged to intervene in a long-running row over a toxic industrial site.
Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly (FG) has formally lodged a petition with the EU Parliament over Haulbowline island in Cork harbour -- the former site of Ireland's only steel mill.
Mr Kelly now wants the EU to direct Ireland to fund a baseline health study of the greater harbour area amid ongoing concerns over cancer 'hot spots' close to the former steel mill.
A 5,500-signature petition has already been collected from residents demanding the study.
"It is time the Irish authorities stop passing the buck on Haulbowline. This toxic dump is not licensed and this has been the case for 10 years," Mr Kelly said.
"In 2005, Ireland was held to be in breach of the EU Waste Management Directive. All landfills are required to be licensed under European law. There are no exceptions. Five years later, there is still no action on Haulbowline, therefore I have decided to bring the case to Europe," he added.
Demand for the baseline health study is underpinned by the revelation from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) that cancer rates in Cobh -- the nearest town to the former steel mill site -- has a rate of the disease that is 37pc higher than the national average.
Two years ago it emerged that the notorious carcinogen, Chromium 6, was detected in waste that had been removed from Haulbowline.
Former Cork East Labour TD Cllr John Mulvihill said it was appalling the way the Government had dragged its heels over the Haulbowline clean-up.
Such was the concern over revelations about the toxic waste on Haulbowline that even US environmental campaigner Erin Brockovich lent her support to local residents.
Steel-making operated at the 20-acre Haulbowline site for more than 60 years before Indian firm Ispat axed its loss-making Irish operation in 2001 with the loss of more than 400 jobs.
It is estimated that more than half a million tonnes of hazardous waste was dumped at Haulbowline in the 15 years before its closure.
Mr Kelly said a baseline health study was the least that locals now deserved.
"It is vital that a baseline health study is conducted in Cork harbour to prove if there is a link or not between chromium VI and other toxic metals on Haulbowline Island and the alarming cancer rate in Cobh," he said.