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Irish Examiner - 17-02-05
Council aware of toxic hotspots, says objector

CORK County Council was aware of “toxic hotspots” around the county but did not reveal this to the public because there was no legal requirement on them to do so, an oral hearing into the draft licence for Ireland’s first toxic waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy in Co Cork heard yesterday.

Robert Allen, an objector to the incinerator, said that he asked Cork County Council in the early 1990s if they were aware that there were toxic hotspots in Cork harbour.

“Cork County Council’s then chief environmental officer, Iain MacLean, told me in an off the record briefing that the council was aware of all the toxic hotspots that exist, but he was not in a position to reveal them because there was no legal requirement to do it,” Mr Allen told the oral hearing.

Local environmentalists did not get the exact levels of dioxins at eight sites in Cork Harbour until one member secured an internal council memo under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Allen told the hearing.

“This internal memo showed that the Council knew about the dioxin levels at the Ringaskiddy site and it showed that there were 21.6 picograms per gram - this was high and the council acknowledged it was high,” Mr Allen said.

But Cork County Council said in a memo dated May 13, 1992 that it saw no point in making a public statement on the matter, Mr Allen added.

The internal Cork County Council memo was written by the then acting chief environmental officer, Kieran O’Brien, to the then Cork County Manager, David Murphy, on May 13, 1992.

Mr O’Brien stated in the letter that high levels of dioxins were found in three areas - north of Sandoz, west of Ringaskiddy and east of Shanbally.

A Cork County Council spokeswoman said they did not want to comment on what emerged at yesterday’s oral hearing.

However, the letter in question, seen by the Irish Examiner, actually states that it would be unwise to make any statement on dioxins until their source could be evaluated.

Mary Dundon
© Irish Examiner


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