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West Cork dredging waste to be transported 200km away by truck

Posted on July 25, 2022

The waste is to be moved to Portlaoise, a decision which has prompted concern among councillors in Cork

The environmental implications surrounding the removal of waste material from a Cork harbour by truck to Portlaoise, were called into question during a recent meeting of Cork County Council’s Western Committee.

Long-awaited dredging works are due to commence at Courtmacsherry Harbour in West Cork on August 8. The works will see the removal of more than 150 truck loads of waste material, that will be driven over 200km away for disposal in Portlaoise.

Local independent councillor Paul Hayes said that he found it environmentally questionable that such a large number of truck journeys would be needed to get rid of the dredged sand and gravel, and asked if it could be used locally as infill material instead.

“Anything that’s going to be taken out, the silt and all of that is due to be removed, the whole lot of it is being driven by truck to Portlaoise.

“So instead of using it as infill somewhere else, it’s perceived to be potentially contaminated sand and silt from around the pier in Courtmacsherry:

I just find it environmentally questionable that something like 150 truckloads of this material is being brought to a designated depot in Portlaoise from Courtmacsherry in a few weeks time, it just seems very, very strange.

Louis Duffy, director of services at Cork County Council’s Environment Directorate told the meeting that the main concern with the dredged material is that it could contain Tributyltin, a now-banned toxic biocide used in anti-fouling paint applied to the hulls of boats.

Mr Duffy said: “While it might seem that that’s a very carbon intense way of dealing with the material, there is a very significant potential for the likes of Tributyltin presence.

So when you take it out, it is not something that is readily suitable for simply putting into a local depression and using it for fill material.

“We are making a lot of effort to ensure that the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] keeps on track for the other areas for demolition materials, aggregates, road plannings, topsoil, and stone.

“I don’t see that providing a local solution for dredging material is something we should engage in just yet.”

The EPA deals with applications for disposal on an individual basis, and considers local issues in the process of making a decision, Mr Duffy said.

“For quite some time, it has taken anything up to 18 months, by which stage the project could be finished, the material might have been relocated, and then they decide that they didn’t like a phrase in the application.

“The risk is always there for any recipient of what is deemed to be a byproduct, if the EPA finds a difficulty in the application process,” he said.

They say that they are overloaded with applications and that they will bring out guidance documents for particular materials, and we’ll just have to try and keep the pressure on with them that way. 

“It’s something that we are at present involved in — the development of a new national waste management plan. I’m on the board of that, so I will be able to use your support to ensure that the new plan that is being made takes proper account of the materials that are of concern to us here.”


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