Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 26th May 2019
Coveney appeal rejected over Cork’s toxic Haulbowline Site
TD to challenge Táiniste over his knowledge of 2017 Report detailing ongoing environmental pollution
As Táiniste Simon Coveney appeals to environmental campaigners not ‘to turn what is a hugely positive story in Cork harbour into something negative’, Clare Daly, Independent TD, has tabled a Parliamentary Question asking him ‘When he was made aware of the Report ‘‘Former Haulbowline Factory, Haulbowline Island, Cork’’ commissioned by his Agents for the clean-up of the abandoned steel works on Haulbowline Island, Cork County Council, and dated March 2017’.
The Deputy’s question, due for reply on Wednesday, asks the Minister, who is Chairman of the Haulbowline Remediation Stake Holders Committee, why the Report was not ‘disseminated immediately and without delay’ as required by the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations to warn the public of dangers to health and the environment.
Her questions says the Report ‘detailed a serious imminent threat to human health and the environment through cadmium, chromium, chromium VI, copper, lead, zinc and mercury concentrations exceeding relevant standards which ‘are consequently considered to pose a significant risk to human health for future site users’ and cites lead leaking into the harbour from broken drains.
FIE Director, Tony Lowes, said “it was naïve for the Táiniste to think that a public park could be built next to one of the most polluted sites in the country without serious questions being asked about threats to health and the environment. The revelation that a secret report details ongoing toxic dust and lead emissions from the site shows that the reality is far from the ‘hugely positive story’ which Minister Coveney wants us to believe.”
Lowes said it was ‘inexplicable that the Minister has called for people with information that they are concerned about, to come forward’ when detailed information about the ongoing pollution was commissioned and received by his agents for his own project in his own constituency more than two years ago.
‘We ask the Minister directly: has he read the Report and does he deny that the State is legally obliged, in the case of the imminent threats to human health or the environment detailed in it, to ensure that all information held by or for them which could enable the public affected to take measure to prevent or mitigate harm is disseminated immediately and without delay.’
Rather than glib reassurances and PR, FIE is calling for all the information held by the authorities to be put into the public domain ‘so that the public can make their up their own minds about the pollution on the island. If the Minister is 100% certain that there is absolutely no risk to users of Haulbowline Island and Cork Harbour then we need to hear that directly. If there is any doubt, given the extreme toxicity of this site, then the public must be warned.’
Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada MEP has supported FIE’s demand that the Council post warning signs. In a statement issued Friday night, she said the “The legacy of the serious health concerns posed by this site to the public alone warrants signage.’
Fred Logue 087 1316023 (solicitor)
Tony Lowes +353 (0)27 74771 / +353 (0)87 2176316
Daithí Ó hÉalaithe (Irish language) +353 (0)87 6178852
Report: ‘Former Haulbowline Factory, Haulbowline Island, Cork’, March, 2017. Warning: 124 MB
Council position and FIE Reply
Link to FIE’s original Report: Toxic Island 2009
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