Eamon Ryan TD,
Minister for Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources
24 July 2009
We would draw your attention to the delay in publishing "Historic Mine Sites - Inventory and Risk Characterisation (HMS - IRC)", required under Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries.
This Directive states:
(30) It is necessary for Member States to ensure that an inventory of closed, including abandoned, waste facilities located on their territory is drawn up in order to identify those which cause serious negative environmental impacts or have the potential of becoming in the medium or short term a serious threat to human health or the environment. These inventories should provide a basis for an appropriate programme of measures.
The relevant [draft] Statutory Instrument [S.I. No. xxx of 2008, WASTE MANAGEMENT (MANAGEMENT OF WASTE FROM THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES) REGULATIONS 2008] states that ‘Such an inventory' is ‘to be made available to the public.' [19. Inventory of closed waste facilities.]
A project to fulfil this requirement commenced in January 2006 with a final report and a GIS geodatabase due in January 2008.
The project was a collaboration between the EPA, the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Exploration & Mining Division of your Department. The final report includes Site Investigations and Characterisation Reports at each of the inventoried sites and, further, recommendations for an appropriate programme of measures.
We have been told that this report can not be made public until it is approved by the Cabinet. The failure to publish this report over the last 18 months is not easy to understand, given that, in the words of the Project outline:
"An outstanding environmental problem relating to mining in Ireland is that of old mining sites or abandoned mine sites, which were not reclaimed when operations ceased and where past mining activities have led to serious land degradation and environmental pollution."
As the sole Cabinet member of the project partners, we would be most grateful if you obtained the necessary permission for its publication from your Cabinet colleagues.