Council plans €40m clean-up of Cork site

CORK COUNTY Council yesterday revealed it plans to lodge a planning application either late this year or early next year for …

CORK COUNTY Council yesterday revealed it plans to lodge a planning application either late this year or early next year for a multimillion euro remediation project to make safe a tip head at the former Irish Steel plant at Haulbowline in Cork Harbour.

The nine-hectare site has been the subject of concern for over a decade since the closure of the steel works in 2001, as sludge and other waste products from the plant were deposited at a sand spit at the eastern end of Haulbowline Island over a period of 40 years.

Investigations were carried out in 2005 and 2008 to establish the nature of the waste material, and further investigations were completed in 2011 which suggested the best solution was to leave the majority of the waste in situ and seal it with a special structure.

According to Haulbowline East Tip Remediation Project manager Dr Cormac Ó Súilleabháin, the council is currently engaged in a technical dialogue with specialist consultants regarding the exact form of the structure but the aim is to stabilise the waste by sealing its perimeter and top surface.

A key factor in the technical consultation is the fact that the structure sealing the perimeter will have to be resistant to coastal erosion.

Provision will also have to be made to ensure that rainwater falling on the surface of the sealed waste will be able to drain off safely.

Dr Ó Súilleabháin said the aims governing the work would be protection of the environment and human health, but the expectation is that the East Tip will be covered with membranes and soil and redeveloped as a green amenity area on the island.

The exact cost of the remediation work will be determined by the final type of engineered structure decided upon, but the Government has allocated some €40 million to make safe the tip head following a European Commission direction to clean up the site.

Cork County Council will lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála for the structure either in late December or early January next year.

It will also apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for a waste licence for the existing waste at the site.

The move by Cork County Council follows agreement by Cork county manager Martin Riordan last year to a request from Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney to facilitate the preparation of a remediation plan and waste licence application for the site.

In August, Cork County Council appointed RPS consulting engineers to undertake an outline design of the remedial solution, as well as complete an environmental impact statement on the proposed work.

This will be submitted as part of the planning application.