Groups will do everything possible to stop Aughinish rock-blasting  

Protestors against rock blasting at Aughinish outside Leinster House.

A COALITION of environmental action groups has said they will do “whatever it takes” to stop rock blasting at the Aughinish Alumina site in Askeaton.

The groups, which includes the Cappagh Farmers Support Group and Friends of the Irish Environment, stated their total opposition to the plan to expand the Aughinish disposal site for the ‘red mud’ created as a by-product from the bauxite refining process.

The ‘mud lake’ currently covers an area of 450 acres . Last year, the owner company, Rusal, applied to An Bord Pleanála for planning permission to extend the depth of the bauxite residue disposal area (BRDA), which would require the extension of a pit to contain materials displace during construction and rock blasting.

The press conference was followed by a protest outside the Dáil. Spokesperson and local resident Tim Hannon said the group is “extremely determined” to stop blasting from going ahead at the site.

Employing 450 people, Aughinish Alumina is the largest such refinery in Europe.

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A decision on that application had been due for delivery by mid-June but remains pending.

The groups who have come together in protest at the prospect of rock blasting at the Aughinish site include Futureproof Clare, Friends of the Irish Environment, Slí Eile, and the Cappagh Farmers Support Group, whose founder Pat Geoghegan has long campaigned against the facility.

Mr Hannon told the event in Dublin that “right now the group’s priority is to prevent rock blasting from taking place, to make sure that the current environmental catastrophe doesn’t turn into a calamity”.

“The reason you can see it (the mud pond) on Google Maps is because nothing can grow on it. This stuff is incompatible with life, under no circumstances should it be allowed to expand,” Mr Hannon said.

Attempts were made to contact the company before going to press, but without response.