February 18th, 2019
An Irish MEP has written to the European Commission to ask if delays to the clean-up of an illegal rubbish dump in Cork city amounts to a breach of environmental and public safety standards.
For nearly two decades, a large volume of household rubbish, animal carcasses and abandoned cars have accumulated at Ellis’s Yard and Spring Lane in Ballyvolane, Co Cork.
Writing to the Commission last week, Luke “Ming” Flanagan expressed concern about how close the open dump is to the homes of residents, a crèche and a soccer pitch used by children.
Mr Flanagan said that while the Council has “occasionally” made efforts to address the issue, the dump remains a significant environmental and public safety concern for Ballyvolane locals.
The council carried out a €500,000 large-scale clean-up operation at Ellis’s Yard between 2003 and 2004 yet illegal dumping continued even after the massive operation. Five years ago, another clean-up effort failed to address the persistent problem.
The rubbish dumped in Ellis’s Yard and Springlane is often set on fire with local residents expressing fear and concern over the nature of chemicals emissions from the burning waste.
Speaking to The Green News, Mr Flanagan said that his office was approached by Noreen Murphy, a local who lives beside Ellis’s Yard.
The Independent MEP said that Ms Murphy, frustrated by the Council’s inaction, asked him to raise the issue. “For several years now, she has been asking Cork City Council to do its duty and clean up this dump,” he said.
Video: Célem Deegan
“For Noreen, it’s been a long and frustrating effort as time and again she has been fobbed off, the Council repeatedly failing in its duty,” Mr Flanagan said.
He said that it is a “scandal” that the open dump on the Council’s property has been there for nearly two decades now. “That local people – the young and the old especially – have been exposed for so long to such an open health hazard, is a scandal,” he added.
“That the scarce and valuable resources of the Cork Fire Department have been called on so often to put out fires in this dump is a scandal.”
Ms Murphy, who has also been in touch with the Council, said that she was asked to remain patient while the Council was devising a plan to tackle the issue. A spokesperson for Cork City Council did not immediately respond to The Green News’s request for comment.
The council previously told residences that it is working on a long-term strategy to solve the issue and that works will be carried out to repair surrounding fencing and to install CCTV to deter future dumping.
Open dumps are known to impose significant risks to human health as well as the environment with air pollution being the primary cause for concern. Particulate matter arising from open dumps can aggravate humans’ airways, degrade lung function and worsen asthma
Dioxin contamination from burning rubbish is also a significant concern to humans’ health and the environment. Dioxin is a controversial substance most famously used in a toxic defoliant during the Vietnam War and is known to cause ailments as serious as cancer.