Writes Ciaran Dineen
Over two months on from the fire that received national attention in the Port of Cork, Ringaskiddy, concerns continue over the lack of an Emergency Plan to deal with future incidents.
This week, at the monthly meeting of the Carrigaline Municipal District (MD), Cllr Seámus McGrath (FF) received correspondence from the Fire Services Department of Cork County Council following a motion he intended to put forward at this month’s MD sitting.
Cllr McGrath made a request “to seek a written report on issues arising from the recent Fire in Ringaskiddy outlining what role the Council has in preparing a Major Incident Emergency Plan for the Ringaskiddy area. Given the concentration of industry in close proximity to a residential area, a specific localised plan should be in place for Ringaskiddy and nearby communities.”
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, the Councillor received a detailed response to his motion, which stated that the “Major Emergency Management Committee is currently reviewing the response to the recent incident at the R&H Hall Facility in Ringaskiddy with a view to addressing any potential improvements in the Major Emergency Management area.”
“It is acknowledged that there is a significant concentration of industry in the Ringaskiddy area. In this regard, additional site-specific emergency plans are required under S.I. No. 209 of 2015 (COMAH Regulations). The Health & Safety Authority has determined that there are 3 such sites in the greater Ringaskiddy area (Pfizer, Novartis, and Thermo Fisher). External Emergency Plans (EEPs) are in place for each of these sites.”
“These plans are jointly prepared by Cork County Council, the Health Service Executive and an Garda Síochána. EEPs are reviewed and tested in conjunction with individual site operators on a 3-yearly cycle in consultation with the Health & Safety Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, copies of EEPs are made available for public consultation during the review and test phase. EEPs are included as sub-plans in Cork County Council’s Major Emergency Plan.”
While Cllr McGrath welcomed the update and was pleased to see that a review was underway, he highlighted the absence of a plan relating to the Port of Cork, stressing his belief that it was essential for Cork County Council to engage with the Port and develop a guide for those living in Ringaskiddy.
He was supported by Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind), who recalled that in his immediate response the Chief Executive of the Council, Tim Lucey, said that the incident would be a “learning experience” for all involved. It was argued by both Cllr McGrath and Cllr D’Alton that engagement with the community was of paramount importance on this issue and that it could not be resolved effectively without such an approach.
For now however, it would appear that if any similar incident was to occur, there are no provisions in place for residents to be notified and be made aware of the situation. It was agreed that the MD would request some additional information based on the response sent to Cllr McGrath.