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// Coveney: Extra funds to clean up toxic dump will be sought if necessary
The minister responsible for cleaning up a toxic dump in Cork harbour has promised to look for more money if the project costs in excess of the €40m already set aside by the Government.
Simon Coveney, the marine minister, made the pledge yesterday as he addressed Cork County Council members ahead of the clean-up, which will get under way at Haulbowline island in the middle of April.
Contractors will move into the site adjacent to the former Irish Steel/Irish Ispat plant to drill 21 bore holes in the illegal dump, which will allow them test for the presence of hazardous waste.
They will also test for gases and for permeability to determine if hazardous material - such as the highly carcinogenic chromium 6 - could have leaked into the harbour.
Mr Coveney said: "Before an application for a waste licence is made to the EPA, we need to know exactly what is buried there and we will compare these results with previous reviews of the site to make sure we can stand over what is dangerous and what isn't and what may have to be removed."
Almost four years after the Irish Examiner revealed the existence of the site, the minister said people were impatient to have it made safe.
He pointed out that the Government was just six months in to its term when it set aside the money and was committed to making the site safe.
Cllr John Mulvihill (Lab), who previously worked with Irish Steel, said he believed there were potentially more pockets of hazardous waste dotted around the island apart from the designated target area known as the East Tip.
The minister said his remit was to concentrate on that site, but if there were further areas that needed attention they would be addressed.
Cllr Mulvihill said he was very disappointed that the Government had not decided to press ahead with a health study in the lower harbour, especially as cancer rates in Cobh were far higher than the national average.
Mr Coveney said he had "no difficulty" with Cllr Mulvihill pressing Health Minister James Reilly to reconsider such a study.
However, Cllr Mulvihill urged the minister to take it to the Cabinet.
He said the study was necessary to see if the East Tip site was responsible for the cancers.
State to export ‘green' electricity to Britain in trade deal, says Minister TALKS BETWEEN the Republic and Britain on a deal allowing large-scale exports of electricity from the State to i ts nearest neighbour are set to step up over coming months, Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte indicated yesterday.
Britain signalled last year that it would be willing to import excess "green" electricity from the Republic, a development that backers of a series of proposed offshore wind f arms hope will underpin their businesses.
This will require a bilateral renewable energy trade agreement between the Republic's Government and Westminster.
Mr Rabbitte and his opposite number in Britain, Charles Hendry, have held a number of talks about the possibility of completing such a deal i n recent months.
Speaking at the Irish Institute of European Affairs yesterday, the Minister said "that work is set to intensify over the coming months, with the objective of achieving an intergovernmental agreement under t he EU f ramework to underpin the export of renewable energy."
Responding to questions from the audience after his speech, the Minister pointed out that the next engagement with the British administration would have to be focused on the eventual shape of the intergovernmental agreement.
The deal will have to be drawn up under t he EU renewable energy directive. Mr Rabbitte said that the "overarching" strategic objective would be to make renewable energy a significant part of the Republic's export industry and to boost its balance of payments.
Commenting on this week's announcement that the Government intends to sell a number of ESB power plants as part of an overall disposal of State companies, Mr Rabbitte made it clear that forthcoming developments in t he EU energy market had prompted the decision to retain ownership of the company as an integrated business. He explained that in 2014, Ireland's energy market will become part of a regional structure made up of this country, Britain and France.
By Sean O'Riordan
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Irish E xaminer