Dáil hears claims of “toxic time bomb” in Askeaton

The Rusal Aughinish Alumina plant at Askeaton.

THE Aughinish Alumina refinery’s storage facility in Askeaton was described as a “toxic time bomb” during a Dáil debate earlier this week.

People Before Profit/Solidarity TD Paul Murphy claimed the red mud storage facility, which holds the by-product of the bauxite refining process, “is so big it can be seen from space”.

Deputy Murphy said the storage area is not lined and is made up of “50 million tonnes of toxic waste containing uranium, lead and salt cake”.

“It seeps into the estuary, it kills wildlife and it threatens public health,” he told the Dáil chamber.

He said that the refinery owners, Russian company Rusal, “now want to extend that storage area.

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“The question is, are the Government just going to stand by and let that happen?

“At the very least there should be an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure there is no rock blasting prior to inspection.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the EPA is there to protect the environment and “ensure there is adherence to strict laws governing industrial projects of this kind”.

He said he would refer the Deputy Murphy’s remarks to the EPA .

Meanwhile, environmental groups Extinction Rebellion Clare and Futureproof Clare carried out a mock citizen’s arrest of Environment Minister Eamon Ryan at a meeting in Ennis last week, accusing him of “ecocide”.

During the meeting, Tim Hannon of Futureproof Clare raised concerns about Aughinish Alumina, urging the Minister not to allow for “rock blasting or a further build-up of toxic material at the site”.

The group also demanded that Minister Ryan carry out “a thorough investigation of Aughinish Alumina once and for all”.