CLARITY has been called for on Government plans to remediate three polluted plots of land on Haulbowline Island’s former steelworks which closed in 2001.
Haulbowline Island was the location of Ireland’s only steelworks which operated on the island between 1939 and 2001. Waste from the steel production process was deposited on the Spit Bank, a shallow sand spit extending eastwards from the Naval Dockyard, from the early 1960s. In July 2011, Cork County Council was requested to progress the regularisation of the site by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine which entailed the preparation of both a waste licence and planning application.
Legal action had been taken by the European Court of Justice in 2005 in relation to hazardous waste deposited on the east tip of the site. Former Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney confirmed in 2016 that an “all-island” approach was being taken in relation to cleaning up the island with €61m to be spent on cleaning the east tip, south tip and factory site on the island - with work to be completed in two and a half years. However, just €13m has been spent on the east tip of the site with targets for an all-island clean up set to be missed.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton has called for an outline of the remediation works and a timeline on when they will be completed.
“The remediation might only address the European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland simply to stay out of trouble with the Commission. That would be most concerning,” she said.
“I’m also mindful that it took the Government five years and a complaint to the European Commission to start site investigations on the East tip. I do find the Government’s description of what it is doing as quite confusing. It seems to say it has done a risk assessment of the factory site and a review of the risk assessment, a design of the remediation options and recommendation of the best way to do that. It doesn’t say what the remediation design is. It refers only to the factory site, it doesn’t mention the south tip.
“The only area of the island that has been addressed is the east tip at a cost of about €15m,” she added.
County Hall official Declan Daly said the Council would seek more information.
“The reason that the legal action was taken was in relation to the east tip and it looks great now. It was an eyesore for a long time and the contractors are on schedule to finish by the end of the year and create a public amenity. I’m delighted to see that myself. We will seek further clarity on the rest of the island,” he added.