Friday 16 November 2018

Get answers about toxic waste, Brockovich urges

Ralph Riegel

ERIN Brockovich, the environmental campaigner who successfully challenged one of America's biggest companies and inspired a Hollywood movie, has urged an Irish community to demand answers about toxic waste dumping.

Ms Brockovich extended her support to the Cork harbour community amid mounting fears over the long-term environmental and health implications of toxic waste dumped at Haulbowline Island.

Her comments came as it emerged one of the substances at the centre of the Haulbowline Island scare is Chromium 6 -- the very same carcinogen involved in the case Ms Brockovich successfully fought in California. That case inspired the smash-hit Hollywood film 'Erin Brockovich' which earned Julia Roberts an Academy Award.

It is now feared that up to 500,000 tonnes of toxic waste could be stored on the Cork Harbour island which for 50 years was home to Ireland's only steel mill.

Yesterday, the US environmental campaigner urged Cork harbour communities to report anything unusual and to demand detailed answers.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions if you see something alarming and don't be afraid to report it," she said.

"If the water is turning a funny colour, if there is a lot of dust, if you are having respiratory problems -- be vigilant," she warned. Ms Brockovich stressed that it was now vital that other groups come to the assistance of the Cork harbour residents -- particularly in relation to health and environmental monitoring.

"I would certainly hope that environmental groups will rally to come out there to get some testing done. I would clearly take a look at any water contamination that is occurring," she told Cork radio station, Red FM.

Dust

"On windy days observe any blown dust -- and I would encourage the community out there to stay after the Government or the company to give them some answers about how much Chromium 6 there is," she said.

Environment Minister John Gormley has been challenged to confirm precisely what will be done with the estimated 500,000 tonnes of toxic waste at the former Irish Steel/Irish Ispat site. Mr Gormley has angrily rejected claims that there was any attempted "cover up" of the Haulbowline toxic waste issue.

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