The signing of a contract for repair to the bridges to Haulbowline Island has been welcomed by Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney as an important step towards the near €100 million clean-up of the former Irish Steel site in Cork Harbour.
Mr Coveney said the repair of the bridges linking Haulbowline Island to Ringaskiddy was a vital to allow the transportation of large volumes of construction material on to the island by road during the estimated 18 month long remediation phase.
An Bord Pleanala recently granted planning permission to Cork County Council as agent for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to carry out remediation work on the East Tip on Haulbowline which contains 650,000 tonnes of slag material.
Some €52 million has been spent since 2004 on demolishing and clearing the former steel plant, and the Government has ring-fenced a further €40 million to carry out remediation on the East Tip which contains a variety of contaminants associated with steel production
The remediation plan drawn up by a number of consultant firms for Cork County Council will involve stabilising the waste by sealing its perimeter and top surface before covering it with membranes and soil to convert the nine hectare site into a green amenity area.
Yesterday, Cork County Council signed a €1.85 contract with L&M Keating Ltd to upgrade the two bridges which link Ringaskiddy to Rocky Island and then in turn link Rocky Island to Haulbowline Island which is also home to the Irish Naval Service.
Mr Coveney explained that the work by L&M Keating will allow the removal of a 25 tonne weight restriction currently in place on the two bridges one of which is 207m long and comprises nine spans and the other which is 146 metres long and comprises 8 spans.
Mr Coveney welcomed the An Bord Pleanala granting of planning permission for the project and said he looked forward to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) deciding on a council application for a waste licence for the existing waste on the site which would allow the remediation work commence.
“The project is now entering an exciting phase where the hard work that has been going on behind the scenes will now lead to construction activity on the island,” said Mr Coveney who in 2011 asked for the site be transferred from the Department of the Environment to his department.