Tuesday, 6 February 1996
Dáil Éireann Debate
265. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Marine if he will expedite the decision in relation to the location of a dredge spoil site to enable the works at Drogheda Harbour, County Louth, to progress. [2633/96]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett): Under the Dumping at Sea Act, 1981 the Minister may grant or refuse to grant a permit authorising dumping at sea operations. The procedure is that an applicant requests permission to dump at sea giving details of: (1) the proposed  disposal site; (ii) the quantity and constituents of the material to be dumped; (iii) the dumping vessel; (iv) why no suitable land-based alternatives exist.
Each application is examined by the Department's marine licence vetting committee (MLVC) which is composed of a chemist, biologists and an oceanographer from the Marine Institute, a marine surveyor and an engineer from this Department and a biologist from the Central Fisheries Board. Each application is examined to ensure that: (i) the disposal site is acceptable from a fisheries and navigational point of view; (ii) the quantity and constituents of the waste are such that they will cause no harm in the marine environment; (iii) there are no suitable land-based alternatives; and (iv) the vessel to be used in disposal of the waste is properly licensed and certified.
The Oslo Commission guidelines for the management of dredged material are taken into consideration in the disposal of dredge spoil. The Minister may require surveys of both the waste and the dump site to be undertaken at the expense of the prospective dumper. If the proposed site is unsuitable for any reason alternative sites are investigated, and if the material itself is found to be unsuitable for dumping at sea, the application is refused.
Drogheda Harbour Commissioners have applied to the Department to dispose of dredge spoil which will result from capital dredging works in Drogheda Harbour. As there are extensive fishing grounds in the vicinity of Drogheda Harbour, problems arose in identifying a suitable dump site. Officials from the Department have been actively seeking a site which will not impact on fisheries. My officials have now identified a site which has some possibilities. Drogheda Harbour Commissioners have now been given details of the suggested site and their confirmation is awaited.
Drogheda Harbour Commissioners are preparing an environmental impact  study (EIS) in respect of the proposed capital dredging works. They will be required to include in the EIS a study of both waste to be dumped at sea and the dump site to ascertain the potential impact of the dumping on the marine environment and on fisheries. On receipt of this study the application will be assessed further in consultation with all relevant parties. I cannot guarantee that the site now under consideration will be suitable until the EIS is carried out. The onus is on the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners to prove that dumping on this site will not impact on the environment and fisheries.
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