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Specalist asbestos removal company workers at one of the asbestos waste dumps in Kilkee last year. Photograph by John Kelly

Kilkee asbestos site lock-out threat

THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has “reservations” with the method statement for phase two of the clean-up operation of asbestos pipes at a disused reservoir near a Kilkee man’s home, it has been claimed.
PJ Linnane said unless residents living close to the dump sites are provided with a full method statement by Clare County Council, they will stop contractors from starting phase two of the clean-up work on Monday (tomorrow).
“I met with some of the locals over the weekend and a decision was taken that if the council does not provide us with the documents, the only option open to us is to bar the site on Monday and lock and chain the access to the contractors,” he said.
Clare County Council said in a statement that a medical report received by the local authority and made publicly available states there is “no evidence of risk” to the public, arising from the current state of the sites in question.
“As part of the planned overall remediation of the sites, Clare County Council is currently progressing phase two, which involves site investigation and has engaged expert consultants and specialist asbestos removal contractors for this purpose. The council is currently liaising with the EPA, the HSE and the HSA and, as such, the work method going forward will be agreed with them as the expert bodies,” the statement added.
The dumping, at up to nine sites across West Clare, came to light in June 2013 and an investigation was subsequently carried out by retired county managers, Edmond Flynn and Edmond O’Connor. The report concluded that the instances of asbestos pipe dumping arose because the policies and procedures that Clare County Council had put in place were not fully complied with.
“It is now two years since the asbestos was dumped near my house,” Mr Linnane told The Clare Champion this week. “Clare County Council has admitted responsibility for the dumping and the independent investigation they commissioned also established that the local authority was responsible. The council has decided the clean-up will be carried out in three phases. The first phase was to engage contractors to clear away all the visible pieces of asbestos piping. We requested a copy of the contractors’ method statement of phase one of the works. This request was denied and we were issued with the documents directly from the EPA. My consultant made recommendations and the document was changed to accommodate us,” the former local town councillor stated.
However, he still has not been presented with a copy of the method statement for phase two of the work.
“Now that phase two is ready to go ahead, we again requested the method statement and risk assessment. They offered, at a meeting last week, a copy of the document in their office but, as I am not an engineer, I thought this was unfair, as these documents are of a technical nature. I pointed this out to Clare County Council and requested that my consultant be given the documents to examine,” Mr Linnane said.
“This has been refused. They stated it is because it is commercially sensitive. We asked them to remove any commercially sensitive material from the document but to give us the method statement and risk assessment, as we wanted to establish how the consultant, RPS, and the contractors, Safeway Environmental, were going to carry out the works. All we are asking for is that the works be carried out in a safe manner and to minimise the risks to ourselves as residents and also to the people using the Wild Atlantic Way, as three of these sites are on it,” he pointed out.
An email sent to Mr Linnane last Friday by a Clare County Council senior engineer confirmed that the council would not be making the phase two method statement available to him.
“We have considered your request to obtain a copy of the documentation for the above contract from our consultants and contractors. We are not agreeing to your request due to the commercially confidential nature of this documentation,” the email read.
Mr Linnane has been told that the EPA has seen the method statement but are not fully happy with it. “Clare County Council has furnished the document in its entirety to the EPA, which they examined. In a phonecall to Mr Caoimihin Nolan [EPA], he said they have reservations with aspects of the method statement and would not confirm to me that all care has been taken in these documents to protect the public.”
Mr Linnane understood the EPA were trying to contact Clare County Council on Tuesday.

By Peter O’Connell

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