Joe Bourke LAP, Pat Geoghegan, Jim Long, Nuala Geoghegan, Mark Keogh, and Larry O' Dwyer with the petition | Picture: Michael Cowhey
A PETITION with more than a thousand signatures in opposition to a planning application by Aughinish Alumina to blast rock on site has been handed in to Limerick City and County Council.
Concerned locals, under the banners of three environmental groups - Rescue the River Shannon Group, Cappagh Farmers Support Group and Limerick Against Pollution - handed the document into the planning department at County Hall, where the application is being processed.
A decision by the Council on whether or not to grant permission is expected early next week.
The application outlines plans by Rusal - the Russian company that owns the Aughinish plant - to blast areas of the site in order to extract rock.
“The enviornment is a shared resource, and any effects on it are important to everyone,” said Raheen resident Joseph Burke, who attended County Hall to support the petition as a member of Limerick Against Pollution.
“This is a cause for fear for local people because of the lack of transparency in the planning process. There should be total transparency when it comes to issues of the environment. The concerns of the citizenry are being ignored,” he added.
Those opposing the plans have fears about the proximity of the proposed rock blasting to the the walls of the red mud ponds - which contain bauxite residue.
“It’s not just Aughinish, if that goes into the Estuary. That’s not just a problem for Aughinish or a problem for west Limerick, it’s all of us. That concerns everyone,” said Helen Kennedy, Dooradoyle, who was also present at the council building to support the petition.
Concerned Limerick people, including former mayor Jim Long, hand in a petition with 1,000 signatures to LCCC opposing Aughinish planning app pic.twitter.com/4C0M8jVE5j— Maria Flannery (@mariaflan) September 11, 2017
The reasons for opposition to the plans range from the general opinion that Aughinish is damaging to the environment, to the specific reason that disturbance to the ground near the red mud on site could increase the chances of a toxic spill.
If planning is successful, blasting will occur six to seven times per year over a 10 year period.