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Irish Examiner - 07/11/05
Minister sits on fence while dioxin levels have almost doubled

ENVIRONMENT Minister Micheál Martin’s lack of concern at the doubling of dioxin levels in Ringaskiddy is shocking.

It is good news that dioxin levels nationally have dropped by 20%, but the reality is that in Ringaskiddy they have almost doubled in the last four years. Dioxins are known carcinogens. They are unintentional byproducts of incineration and, according to the Environment Protection Agency in the US, there are no safe levels of dioxins.

No doubt the study to determine dioxin levels in Ireland was carried out in a scientific manner. All samples were taken using the same techniques, analysed in the same way, in the same laboratory and results correlated accordingly - in the same way.

If doubt is going to be cast on the credibility of the Ringaskiddy results, then it has to be cast on the entire report.

Mr Martin may be happy to believe the EPA here when they say they have “no concerns,” but he must realise that he is elected to represent the people of Cork and we, the community affected, have grave concerns about these results.

It clearly shows that all is not well in Cork harbour. Despite the closure of Irish Steel and IFI, the two dirtiest industries in the harbour, dioxin levels have doubled.

Worryingly, the EPA cannot explain why there is an increase, although they are the competent authority charged with protecting our environment. Surely a more appropriate response from Mr Martin, and indeed the EPA, would have been to concur with the communit’s concern at these increases and set about trying to determine why they occurred.

Trying to bury this unwelcome result as a “rogue sample,” and dismiss it as not being of concern, clearly shows that the EPA - and indeed it seems the minister - cannot be trusted to protect us.

This entire incident has highlighted one thing. It shows that the wishes and safety of the people of Cork are to be ignored. For years there has been a call for a proper baseline health study to be carried out on the people of Cork.

Indeed, the Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE) met with Mr Martin while he was minister of health to impress upon him the importance of such a study. But it was to no avail.

Now we have evidence from the EPA themselves that should alarm any public representative, but Mr Martin, sadly, has decided to continue to sit on his fence.

Mary O’Leary
West End Terrace
Co Cork


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
Tel - 021 481 5564      Email -
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