AN ILLEGAL “chemical dump” outside Newcastle West has become so dangerous to the local water supply that the taxpayer is now going to have to pay over €100,000 to clean it up.
Limerick County Council has been forced to step in and remove 1,200 barrels of industrial paint that have been illegally stored on a small property outside the town for a number of years.
Many of the barrels are rusted and decayed and are allowing the potentially toxic contents to escape into the River Arra, which is part of the local drinking water network.
The man responsible, 70-year-old Sean Keating of Ballintubrid, Newcastle West, could now face a prison sentence and the seizure of his land after failing to tackle the problem, despite a court warning.
A long-running county council prosecution against Mr Keating under waste management law appeared before a sitting of Newcastle West Court last Thursday.
Solicitor Will Leahy, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said that the “paint mountain” on the site has effectively become “a chemical dump”, which is “a serious risk to the health of the public in County Limerick”.
Council official Sean Nash gave evidence that the problem dates back to pre-2006 when it was brought to their attention that Mr Keating, who ran “a large commercial painting business”, was storing hundreds of barrels of oil and water-based paints on his quarter acre property.
Mr Keating said that he has so far spent “at least” €40,000 on cleaning up the site, but has now run out of money and cannot afford to do any more.
He said that he fears that the county council will “take a lean on my property” to cover the cost of the eventual clean up.
For the full story, see this week’s Limerick Leader weekend edition