October 24th, 2019
The collapse of a mine shaft in Cahermeeleboe, Co Cork has caused the formation of a large sinkhole on the road linking Castletownbere to Allihies village that authorities have warned may expand.
The L-8912-0 road linking Castletownbere to Allihies is closed to the public as a matter of emergency, with Cork County Council warning the public not to go beyond to erected safety barriers near the sinkhole.
Allihies Village is home to several abandoned and dilapidated copper mines dating back to the 19th century when the area was at the heart of copper ore production in the country.
The Department and the EPA recently carried out a study to identify and assess the potential risks of historic mines across the country. The survey found high concentration of copper residue in streams in areas with historic, disused mines including Allihies, Avoca, Glandore and Ballycummisk in West Cork.
A spokesperson for the EPA told The Green News that it is not involved in the efforts to survey and assess the new situation in Allihies as its inspector believes that “this would be a matter for the local authority”.
The Council has asked the Department of the Environment to survey the area where the sinkhole formed to determine the scope of the problem and to gauge the possibility of further collapses.
The Council also confirmed to The Green News that the identity of owners or those responsible for the maintenance of the abandoned mines in Allihies is unknown at this time.
“Searches for the current landowner and for the person or company with responsibility for the mines and minerals on the landholding is being undertaken,” a spokesperson said.
Social Democrats Councillor for West Cork, Holly Cairns, also told The Green News that further enlargement of the sinkhole remains a worry. “I urge all members of the public not to go near to the sinkhole and to not go beyond the safety barriers,” she said.
According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), disused mines and shafts are a “major problem” in the country as little consideration has often been given to “make these sites fully safe”.
The HSA wants to see strict legislation brought in to ensure public safety in the presence of abandoned and disused mines, enforcement of which could be overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Last year, several sinkholes emerged in Magheracloone in Co Monaghan on land owned by Gyproc, an Irish plaster and plasterboard manufacturer, following the collapse of a pillar in the disused Drumgossatt mine. A 100-meter sized sinkhole damaged football pitches at Magheracloone GAA club in September.