6 July 2000 Edition

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ESB defeats Cobh people

Democracy received a severe knock last Wednesday (28 June), when the High Court upheld the ESB's challenge to a Cork County Council decision.

In March 1999, the councillors, as a result of a very strong campaign across Cobh Island and the Cork Harbour area, adopted a Section 30 motion to overrule planning permission the council had originally granted to the ESB, in February 1997, to erect 80 pylons to carry a 220kv line from Aghada in East Cork across Cork Harbour to Rafeen. Judge Finnegan, in a reserved judgement last week, overruled the Council's Section 30 motion in favour of the ESB's Appeal.

Forty three local landowners were a notice party in the action, which has united Cobh people in protest against yet further above-ground ESB high voltage lines, which they say destroy a beautiful island, and are a health hazard to people and their livestock. As in other EU countries, the ESB should put the cabling underground.

Next stop in the campaign is a public meeting on 11 July and the return of cohorts of eco-warriors who are actively committed to preserving the environment of Cobh from the ravages of the ESB.

 


``Hugely significant'' OSPAR vote



Twelve of the 15 countries at the OSPAR Convention in Copenhagen last Thursday (29 June) called for an end to nuclear reprocessing and the implementation of dry storage. The decision left Britain and France, which continue to spew millions of litres of radioactive waste into the sea, polluting the North East Atlantic Marine environment, from their state-owned reprocessing facilities at La Hague and Sellafield, politically isolated.

Although the UK and France will argue that they are not bound by the decision, which they (and Luxembourg) didn't support, the vote has been hailed as a major landmark in the battle to force BNFL to shut down the British government's reprocessing facility. At present, BNFL has undertaken to bring radioactive discharges into the sea `close to zero' by 2020.

A Greenpeace poll showed 9 out of 10 British adults believed that Sellafield's radioactive waste discharges into the sea should be stopped.

 


Silvermines lead pollution



A report from inter-agency experts has confirmed what local people knew already, that Mogul Ireland's tailing pond from their mining operations at Silvermines, County Tipperary, has polluted the environment, including the local National School Playground, with lead. The long awaited report was presented last week (27 June) to an angry meeting of 300 people.

Aidan Murray, a Department of Agriculture officer chairing the inter-agency investigation, says that Mogul, now a subsidiary of Ennex Int., will be liable, under terms of its lease, for the damage.

But Anne Butler, director of the EPA, claims that the report's findings have not shown any shortcomings in environmental monitoring, and the cattle deaths resulting from lead poisoning, (at least three) ``were not on a major scale''.

This does little to assuage the fears of the villagers at Silvermines that the EPA can be relied on to throw out, once and for all, US Waste Management Inc.'s plans for a super dump at the old mine above the village. Controversy over government plans for regional incineration plants only reinforce these fears.

 


WHO calls for research into mobile phone use



Protestors against mobile phone masts and base stations can take heart.

The World Health Organisation, in a landmark decision last Wednesday, 26 June, called for more research into the recent findings that the use of mobile telephones may have adverse effects on brain activity, reaction times and sleep patterns.

Current research indicates that mobiles phones do affect some medical devices, including pacemakers and hearing aids. Researchers are not sure what to make of the results of the 1997 research showing that radio frequency fields increased the rate by which genetically engineered mice developed lymphoma.

Meanwhile the WHO has recommended limiting exposure times through use of mobile phone, especially by children.

There are expected to be 1.6 billion users of mobile phones worldwide by 2006.

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