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Hot site in Cork Harbour

18th April 2011
Hot site in Cork Harbour
As Cork Harbour yachts cross tacks along the Cobh shoreline, passing the naval dockyard at Haulbowline, how many realise they are cruising past one of Ireland's environmental hot potatoes?

Haulbowline island is making headlines because of cancer-causing residue, left over from the Irish Steel plant that once occupied the land. It has been confirmed that a cache of 500,000 tonnes of slag and toxic waste material were buried at the former steelworks. Now the Government has three months to start cleaning the toxic waste site in Haulbowline or risk court action by the European Commission.

The report, compiled in 2005 but, like the toxins, only seeping out later, shows high levels of several heavy metals at the plant, both in soil samples and water samples.

haulbowline

The site at Haulbowline. Photo: Bob Bateman

Chromium six, which causes cancer both by inhalation and by infecting groundwater, was revealed to be present in massive quantities at Haulbowline. The mineral is a highly toxic anti-corrosion agent used in the steel-making process, but which is gradually being phased out due to its toxicity.

The site is a blight on one of the finest natural harbours in the world, and home to one of the best regattas in the world. How can sailors make their views known on this subject? We'd like to hear your thoughts – [email protected]

Published in Cork Harbour
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It’s one of the largest natural harbours in the world – and those living near Cork Harbour insist that it’s also one of the most interesting.

This was the last port of call for the most famous liner in history, the Titanic, but it has been transformed into a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

The harbour has been a working port and a strategic defensive hub for centuries, and it has been one of Ireland's major employment hubs since the early 1900s. Traditional heavy industries have waned since the late 20th century, with the likes of the closure of Irish Steel in Haulbowline and shipbuilding at Verolme. It still has major and strategic significance in energy generation, shipping and refining.

Giraffe wander along its shores, from which tens of thousands of men and women left Ireland, most of them never to return. The harbour is home to the oldest yacht club in the world, and to the Irish Navy. 

This deep waterway has also become a vital cog in the Irish economy. 

 

‘Afloat.ie's Cork Harbour page’ is not a history page, nor is it a news focus. It’s simply an exploration of this famous waterway, its colour and its characters.

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