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Asbestos and other toxic waste leaking into Irish Sea off Bray and Dublin coast

It has been warned that people’s health could be at risk.

John Brady at the beach
John Brady at the beach
Image: John Brady

TOXIC WASTE IS leaking into the Irish Sea at an old landfill site in Bray, Co Wicklow.

Hazardous waste, including fragments of asbestos and potassium, are leaking into the sea at a beach where the former municipal landfill was once operated by Bray Urban District Council (which is now part of Wicklow County Council).

Much of the site is actually located within the boundary of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCC).

Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada, an MEP for Ireland South, has called on the government and European authorities to clean up the site urgently.

“I am extremely worried that this dangerous material is being allowed to enter our natural water system.

This situation must be acted on without delay. Exposure to hazardous waste has been proven historically to allow cancer clusters to form in our local communities. Protecting public health must be of paramount concern.

“In recent years, funding has been released to clean up and remove hazardous waste located at sites in Waterford, Cork, Tipperary and other locations in Ireland,” Ní Riada said.

Wicklow TD John Brady has been raising the issue since 2005. “The dump contains more than 104,000 cubic metres of waste including broken asbestos tiles and excessive levels of ammoniacal nitrogen, potassium and manganese in the groundwater,” he said.

Long-term solution 

When discussing the issue in the Dáil recently, junior minister Denis Naughten said: ”The preparation and adoption of a waste management plan is the statutory responsibility of the local authority or authorities concerned.”

Naughten noted that, at the end of January 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised DLRCC to carry out an Environmental Risk Assessment.

“A detailed site investigation has been carried out and a technical report is currently being considered by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Wicklow County Council and the EPA.

The purpose of this technical report is to identify any remedial measures that may be required to protect the environment in the immediate area of the former landfill.

Naughten added that “regular monitoring and inspections” of the beach are being carried out by DLRCC, Wicklow County Council and Woodbrook Golf Club, which now owns the majority of the affected site.

The golf club has also assigned one of its employees to do a regular clean-up of any debris found on the beach.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said the relevant local authorities “are working together to develop a long-term solution to the stabilisation of this landfill site”.

“The landowner has arranged for the appropriate removal of any materials that are being dislodged onto the beach. The minister has no decision-making role in the matter,” the statement added.

A spokesperson for the EPA said the organisation has an open enforcement file in relation to the site at North Beach.

DLRCC are undertaking a full risk assessment to determine the environmental risk of the former landfill and to identify any remedial measures required to protect the environment in its immediate area.

“The EPA is continuing to correspond with the council to ensure that any recommendations or works required are completed within appropriate timeframes,” the spokesperson added.

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