Contaminated site remediation has finally begun on a factory site in Laois, and it will take years to make the land safe for use. The land was poisoned by chemicals from Avon Cosmetic’s factory Arlington Ltd that closed in Portarlington in 2000. Arlington Ltd made costume jewellery and soap for over 20 years on the Canal Road site.
However a chemical solvent was regularly dumped on land behind the factory and it contaminated groundwater. The water is believed to be contaminated right down to the bedrock, a depth of as much as 40 metres. The ground was tested in 2003 by the Environmental Protection Agency who then informed landowners within 500m to no longer use water from their wells.
The EPA has now engaged a contractor to start remediation (clean-up). “The first phase of the remediation programme is to conduct a full site investigation to determine the scale and extent of the contamination plume in order to identify the most appropriate remediation strategy,” an EPA spokesperson said. “A remediation programme has been agreed with the EPA and work has commenced at the site. The remediation programme is a risk-based clean-up which will take place over a number of years”.
The cost of the clean-up will be paid from an insurance policy taken out by Pat McCormack (now deceased) of Claybourne Properties Ltd who bought the closed factory in 2001. That company later dissolved and the loan first went to NAMA and is now understood to belong to a vulture fund. The empty factory was set on fire in 2014 and then demolished for safety reasons.
The EPA says that while the factory opened in the late 1970’s, it was first granted a licence for electroplating in 1998, and that the site contamination happened before the licence was granted. “Site investigations conducted in the early 2000’s found extensive chlorinated solvent contamination in the groundwater below the site. This contamination was principally trichloroethene (TCE) and smaller amounts of 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA) and had occurred prior to the grant of the licence. “Groundwater monitoring results for a 13-year period (2000 to 2013) suggest that the plume of contaminated groundwater is stable and shrinking and there is no migration of contamination off-site,” the EPA said.
It is hoped to do decontamination in-situ. It will involve injecting a particular substance into the ground to degrade the TCE and add bacteria to further assist the process.
Source – Leinster Express