Farm Ireland

Thursday 26 April 2018

Milk from farms near Silvermines site given all clear following lead contamination fears

Fresh milk for the supermarket shelf is produced 365 days a year by 1,800 specialists among our 18,000 dairy farmers. Stock Image
Fresh milk for the supermarket shelf is produced 365 days a year by 1,800 specialists among our 18,000 dairy farmers. Stock Image
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Milk deliveries have fully resumed from a number of farmers in Tipperary following an investigation into potential lead contamination.

Milk from farms in the Silvermines area of Tipperary was sent for testing in the UK over potential lead contamination.

An Inter-Agency Group was recently established to investigate unexplained cattle deaths and the presence of elevated metal levels in milk from farms in the area. 

The Group was led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine with participation from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the mining Industry along with other relevant state agencies.

Responding to questioning on the issue this week, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said the Department continues to work with individual farmers in the area to assist with production issues and to tackle underlying problems on their farms.

He said however that his Department understands that there has been a full resumption of milk deliveries from all of the farms concerned.

"An Inter-Agency group will also review, and if deemed necessary revise the active management measures to be taken in the area in order to avoid problems such as those being experienced by the herdowners in the future," he said.

It is also understood the findings of the Inter-Agency Group will help inform decisions in respect of remediation efforts at the former mining sites at Silvermines.

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It is understood that some farmers in the area had their milk withheld from human consumption for as long as three months. This week local TD Jackie Cahill asked the Minister to review the case of persons in the Silvermines area of Co. Tipperary who have lost production due to residues and if compensation will be arranged to offset their significant losses.

Since 2007, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources  in co-operation with Tipperary County Council has undertaken an extensive programme of remediation works at a number of former mining sites at Silvermines, Co. Tipperary with expenditure on the works totalling €11.2m to date.

Currently, plans are underway to develop a pumped storage electricity generation plant at Silvermines, according to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The proposed development would utilise the flooded open pit at the Magcobar site, which was used to produce barite from 1963 to 1992.

The over €500m worth of an investment is set to provide 10pc of the county's electricity when it is finished.

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