WATCH: Picketer in bid to stop transport of substances at Gas Networks site in Limerick

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

AN ENVIRONMENTAL activist has staged an all-day picket at the Gas Networks Ireland site over the transportation of a coal tar substance. 

Gas Networks Ireland is currently in the completion phase of “soil stabilisation” on three acres on O’Curry Street and the Dock Road, in a bid to make the site ready for commercial development. 

Sinead Jackson, from Annacotty, has been standing in front of the gated entrance since 8am, in a bid to prevent workers from transporting tanks of coal tar from the site. 

Coal tar is a common by-product of historical gas making, which had occurred at this site in the late 1800s. 

As part of the entire multi-million euro project, coal tar has to be transported from the site. According to an EPA report, all contaminated material is being transported by ship. 

Ms Jackson, who was the sole picketer, said that she is “standing strong” outside the site since 8am. 

“I am doing a picket against Gas Networks Ireland. Over the course of the last year, they’ve been emitting odours from the site. It has affected the business across the road, it has affected the local residents that have all made numerous complaints.”

She said that she has been in contact with the EPA in relation to the matter. 

She said she was planning on “staying for the whole day”. She said she had brief discussions with workers at the site. She said she would welcome more people to join her protest. 

“The local residents are getting sick from it [the odours]. They are getting headaches. It’s not good enough,” she told the Limerick Leader. 

The major project has garnered negative attention from dozens of local residents and businesses over the emission of what has been described as an “offensive gassy odour”. 

A spokesperson for the EPA said this Monday afternoon that they have received 77 complaints in relation to the works, and that an investigation is still underway. 

In an update on July 31, the EPA said: “During EPA site visits, we have confirmed that all of the excavation, mixing and relaying activities that are carried out as part of the remediation works have the potential to generate hydrocarbon odours on the site. These odours can cause offsite impacts if they are conducted in unfavourable weather conditions.

“In cases where we have determined that works are impacting residents and businesses around the site, we have instructed the licensee to cease activities that were causing these impacts. We will continue to do so as and when necessary to prevent offsite impact.”

Gas Networks Ireland has moved to reassure residents that they are putting “safety at the heart of everything we do” and have previously said that the odours are “not toxic”. 

“We monitor air quality on the site and in the surrounding streets on a regular basis to ensure the safety of the public, our neighbours to the site, our workers and all visitors to the area. This screening has not detected any air quality issues that would have occupational or a public health impact.”

This reporter has contacted Gas Networks Ireland for an update on their current activity, and the destination to where the coal tar substance is being transported.