The State's forestry service Coillte will have to spend €100,000 clearing up 600 tonnes of industrial and domestic waste dumped on two sites in Kingscourt, Co Cavan recently.
Coillte's national estates risks manager Mick Power has described the amount of waste at the Drumgill forest as "astronomical" and that this is the worst incident ever faced by the State service.
"We deal with waste on a regular basis year on year, but I think this really takes the biscuit. It's 600 tonnes of a mish-mash of industrial and domestic waste which was hauled into two sites side by side outside Kingscourt in Cavan," he told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland.
“It didn’t happen overnight, but over a short period of time all this material arrived on site. It is very unsightly, very large and it will be a major problem to dispose of it. It will be very costly.”
Mr Power explained that a lot of Coillte’s properties are isolated, out of the eye of the public. “Because of that we’re very vulnerable in some of these areas. This area was obviously cased very well because we had carried out a tier filling in the area and had done road improvement works to extract the timber, so it was tailor made for what they wanted.
“They took full advantage of the access and full advantage of the road improvement and full advantage of the turn tables we installed.”
He estimates that the cost of clearing this waste will be close to €100,000. “There are certain environmental hazards within this, there’s water way hazards, and they’ll all have to be dealt with in the proper way, it will have to be loaded, it will have to be transported, it will have to be brought to the dump and disposed of in a proper fashion, and then there will have to be a site clean up after that.”
The cost of the clear up will have to be met by a number of Government departments, he said. “At the end of the day when rubbish like that is put on your property you become owner of the rubbish so Coillte is responsible for this now.
“We will be having talks with the Department of the Environment, talks with the local council, but at the end of the day whoever pays for it, and Coillte will pay a large part of the bill, it really comes back to the tax payer because Coillte is a public owned body, so too are the county councils.
“There’s nobody else going to foot this bill only some of those type of organisations, but in the main it will be Coillte.
“On an annual basis we would spend between €400,000 and €500,000, year on year. We put a five year action plan in place last year looking at a lot of historic data, you’re looking at a constant figure of between €400,000 and €500,000 which is a real waste of money, but we want to keep our forests clean.
“We have an open forest policy, we invite everybody to come walk in the forest. We pride ourselves in our forests and in the way we manage and keep them.
“Some are in isolated areas and they’re vulnerable. We have a five year action plan, which includes cameras and a confidential number – 1890 800 455 – if people have information re this incident or any other incident feel free to call.”