De-toxing the gas works site
Children and their parents protested in Pearse Street, last Thursday, 26 October, against the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), which has the responsibility to remediate the 22-acre site where gas was produced for some 200 years. The site has to be cleaned before development can go ahead.
The DDDA has breached the terms of their Environmental Protection Authority licence, according to Dr Ted Nealon of the EPA. The work to remediate the site is a multi-million contract is expected to take at least 18 months and has been subcontracted to Parkman and Pierce. The site contains many dangerous toxins present, including free cyanide, phenol and sulphite.
Local residents are very concerned. ``There is dust blowing everywhere, which must be highly poisonous. There are mounds of earth which have been excavated and left on the site, uncovered. Documented evidence of similar clearance operations in the UK and Italy have been associated with increases of 30% in cancer clusters,'' says Eileen Dunne of the Docklands Opposed to Contamination Group.
``This is just one of several sites which the DDDA has to develop, which are similarly contaminated,'' says Daithi Doolan, a local Sinn Féin activist. ``The DDDA is a quango set up by Ruairi Quinn to manage the huge £2 billion urban regeneration scheme in the Docklands. But in fact the DDDA has acted as a buffer between the community in Ringsend and the elected councillors, and far from looking after the interests of the community, it has acted without any consultation or regard for the people who live in this area.
``Development cannot be at the cost of peoples' health.''
As a result of the protest, local residents met with Peter Coyne, chief executive of the DDDA, last Tuesday. Daithi Doolan describes the meeting as pathbreaking. The DDDA recognised that they had kept the local residents in the dark and that a new structure of communication needs set up. A tripartite meeting between residents, DDDA and the EPA has been set up in the coming week. ``I am hoping that this meeting marks a radical change in attitude of the DDDA, in terms of consultation with the community,'' said Doolan.