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Written Answers - Hazardous Waste

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 324.  Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  the reason the southern part of Haulbowline Island and other polluted parts of the island will not be covered by the steering group’s Environmental Protection Agency licence application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6499/12]

 325.  Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  his plans for the polluted parts of Haulbowline Island outside of the eastern tip; and when these plans will be implemented. [6500/12]

 326.  Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  if studies have been undertaken on pollution seepage from sites other than the eastern tip into other parts of Haulbowline Island. [6501/12]

 327.  Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  when the decision to exclude the southern part of Haulbowline Island from the Environmental Protection Agency licence application process was taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6502/12]

 328.  Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  if the decision to exclude the southern part of Haulbowline Island from the Environmental Protection Agency licence application was his decision or made by the steering group; if he will make a decision on the matter. [6503/12]

 329.  Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  if the decision to exclude the southern part of Haulbowline Island from the Environmental Protection Agency licence application process was discussed by the steering group or subgroups before and after the decision was made; and if so, the number of occasions. [6504/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 324 to 329, inclusive, together.

There is an unauthorised hazardous waste site (known as the East Tip) within the site of the defunct steel works at Haulbowline, County Cork. Irish Ispat, the last company to operate the steel works, applied for, and was granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licence. However, the company went into liquidation in June 2001 before the conditions in the licence could be met and the liquidator applied to the High Court seeking to disclaim the IPC licence. In its judgment on 29 July 2004, the Court [470]found as a matter of fact that the IPC licence was granted after the company had ceased production of steel and that the conditions of the licence could not be applied retrospectively.

In 2003 the State, acting through my Department in a co-ordinating role, took over custody of the site from the liquidator as mandated by Government. The mandate required my Department to, inter alia, cover issues such as ongoing site security, ongoing maintenance, and other issues arising once the site was vacated by the liquidator and also to enable a site investigation to be carried out to determine the best option, economically and environmentally, for site remediation.

Following a complaint relating to the failure to ensure that the site was covered by a waste permit, the European Commission sought information from the Irish authorities on 7 May 2009 through the EU Pilot complaint system on the measures being taken to ensure that the waste was covered by a valid waste permit. In this request, the Commission cited the judgment in European Court of Justice Case C494/01. In an additional Letter of Formal Notice in October 2010, in relation to deliverables required of the State to close Case C494/01, the European Commission cited the unauthorised hazardous waste site within the site of the defunct steel works at Haulbowline, County Cork — the East Tip. It stated that it was evident from the response that no waste permit is in place for the sludge pit although it relates to an industrial site that was functioning up to 2001 (i.e. over a period when the Directive was applicable). The Waste Framework Directive applies to waste deposited after 1977 and the State is obliged to ensure that all such waste deposited since 1977 is covered by a valid waste permit.

Following Government consideration, my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney TD, on 27 June 2011 announced the establishment of a Steering Group to oversee an application for a licence to the EPA to address the issue raised by the Commission in its Letter of Formal Notice and to oversee any necessary remedial action required. The Steering Group is chaired by Minister Coveney and also comprises representatives of the Departments of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Defence, Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department and the Office of Public Works. Cork County Council has agreed on behalf of the State to prepare the licence application, under the supervision of the Steering Group. The timeline and outline of proposed works in this regard are set out on the Council’s website, www.corkcoco.ie.

In so far as the South Tip is concerned, the waste in that location was deposited in the 1960’s and, therefore, is not covered by waste legislation licensing requirements. However, Cork County Council will in due course be reviewing the data which exists and will carry out a risk assessment based on that data. The outcome of that risk assessment, which will take account of the relevant EPA Code of Practice and will be incorporated into the overall programme of works to be undertaken under the aegis of the Steering Group chaired by Minister Coveney, will inform decisions on what actions may be required in relation to the South Tip.


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