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Press Release: State breaching EU promise over toxic dump clean-up

category national | environment | press release author Thursday May 10, 2018 18:27author by foie Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment - 9th May 2018

An environmental group has published a commitment from the Irish Government to the European Commission to extend the clean-up of the East Tip at the site of the former ISPAT steelworks on Haulbowline Island in County Cork to an ‘all island’ clean up.

The State is completing the clean-up of a 9 hectare East Tip contaminated waste dump but the machinery is to be removed at the end of the summer, leaving the 11 hectare site of the original steel mill in a contaminated and unusable state.

PRESS RELEASE
9 May 2018
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT

State breaching EU promise over toxic dump clean-up

An environmental group has published a commitment from the Irish Government to the European Commission to extend the clean-up of the East Tip at the site of the former ISPAT steelworks on Haulbowline Island in County Cork to an ‘all island’ clean up.

The State is completing the clean-up of a 9 hectare East Tip contaminated waste dump but the machinery is to be removed at the end of the summer, leaving the 11 hectare site of the original steel mill in a contaminated and unusable state.

Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE], who brought the original complaint over the contamination of the island to the European Commission in 2009, have provided the Commission with a letter from the Irish Authorities to the European Commission dated 15 July 2015 stating:

‘The Government has decided that remediation will be based on a ‘whole of island’ approach, encompassing full remediation of the former East Tip (the subject of the original ECJ Judgment] as well as a ground level remediation of the nearby South tip and former steelworks factory site.’

FIE Director Tony Lowes’ letter to the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella points out that ‘The commitment to an ‘all island approach’ allowed the Commission and Ireland to announce the closure of the Waste Case in September 2016. The failure of the Irish Authorities to adhere to its commitments constitutes a breach of promise and failure in the duty of loyal cooperation’.

In a Letter of Formal Notice in October 2010, in relation to deliverables required of the State to close the Waste Case C494/01, the European Commission specifically cited the unauthorized hazardous waste site within the site of the defunct steel works at Haulbowline, County Cork. Cork County Council, operating on Cabinet instructions under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture, however, applied only for a Waste License to decontaminate the historic dump of 9 hectares, known as the East Tip.

In November 2011 the Commission made a site visit hosted by the Irish Naval Chief of Staff Mark Mellott at which FIE raised its concern that the remaining 11 hectares of the site were to be left untouched. At the request of the Commission, FIE provided supplementary information detailing the extent of the waste. The submission cited surface testing during earlier surveys commission by the Government in 2002 which identified extensive interconnected underground cellars and drainage systems with the heaviest contamination on the island at the site of the factory itself.

In its letter of July 15, 2015 the Government committed to an ‘all island’ clean-up. On this basis, the Waste Case against Ireland was closed in November 2015.

On 8th of January, 2016 Simon Coveney, then Minister for Agriculture, confirmed that ‘The remediation project will see the former waste site at the East Tip become a large public amenity park and a ground level remediation of the former factory site, opening up significant development possibilities for this key strategic location, already the permanent location of the Irish Naval Service.’

FIE says that 18 months later the current Minister for Agriculture stated a written Parliamentary Reply that ‘The remediation of the area of Haulbowline Island known as the East Tip forms part of Ireland's Programme of Measures to address the judgment in April 2005 of the European Court of Justice against Ireland in Case C494/01’ but dropped any mention of the 11 hectare site of the steel mill being remediated and made available for ‘significant development possibilities’.

FIE’s letter to the Commissioner concludes that ‘this can only serve to undermine the reputation of the Commission Services in Ireland and the very significant influence for environmental good which the Waste Case brought to Ireland.’

ENDS

Further Information
Tony Lowes 087 2176316

Complaint and Documentation:
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/...8.pdf

Original 2009 Report: ‘Toxic Island’
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/attachments...d.pdf

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