The Sunday Business Post has learned that the Government
dropped legal actions in relation to the cost of cleaning
up the former steel plant at Haulbowline in Cork four years
after it was warned that pollution from the site could pose
a high risk to the health of local residents.
The state had been attempting to force the liquidator of
the defunct Irish Ispat steel plant to cover the cost of cleaning
up the site, but dropped all outstanding actions in early
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act recently
show that the state was warned four years earlier that there
were ‘'high risks'’ from wind-blown dust and leaks
of poisonous material into the ground and water surfaces.
The warning was contained in a 2002 investigation of the
site carried out by British consultants Enviros Aspinwall.
It was estimated in 2006, that cleaning up the site would
cost about €30 million - but figures stated in the Dáil
recently suggested that the real cost of the clean-up operation
could be ten times that amount.
It emerged last month that the site at Cork Harbour may contain
more hazardous waste than previously thought. Traces of the
carcinogen Chromium 6, lead and mercury are among an
estimated 500,000 tonnes of toxic waste buried at the Haulbowline
Here). The Naval Service has closed-off part of its
lands at Haulbowline while an investigation is carried out
into the environmental dangers posed by waste.
Before the 2006 settlement, the state had failed in a larger
action to force Irish Ispat’s liquidator - Ray Jackson of
KPMG - to pay the full cost of the site. However, the
state decided to continue with a number of other summonses
- including one action under the Polluters Act - to force
Jackson to cover some of the clean-up cost.
The state said it dropped all the outstanding actions based
on legal advice. Irish Ispat was formerly Irish Steel, the
state-owned steel mill. Ispat Mexicane, a steel company owned
by Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, acquired the firm in
1996, before closing the company down five years later with
the loss of 450 jobs.
Source - The Sunday Business Post