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Council may take legal action after spill on supermarket site

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Tanks were brought into the St Mary’s Crescent area to try and clear the street drainage system in the area of any excess oil after the weekend spill.
Tanks were brought into the St Mary’s Crescent area to try and clear the street drainage system in the area of any excess oil after the weekend spill.?Pic: Conor McKeown


Oil spillage causes Westport disruption



Council may take legal action after spill on supermarket site

Áine Ryan


MAYO County Council may consider taking legal action against a construction company involved in a major oil spill in Westport over the weekend, The Mayo News has learned. The company, Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd, of Cavan, is building the town’s new low-cost Lidl supermarket, at the Demesne.
“When the incident was brought to our attention this morning (Monday) we immediately contacted Lidl and advised them to talk to their contractor on-site. Our Environmental Office was also notified and, as a precautionary move, we also contacted the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Fisheries Board,” County Engineer, Joe Beirne said yesterday afternoon.
“We are disappointed with the response of Lidl and the contractor, we felt they were slow to take responsibility and to act in order to mitigate the risk of pollution,” he continued.
However, Mr Beirne told The Mayo News later that Lidl was dispatching its Environmental Officer to the scene of the spillage. He understands that ‘an incident seemed to have happened last Thursday or Friday which wasn’t sorted out properly’ and, ultimately,  developed into a major incident over the weekend. However, the contractor claims the incident occurred on Saturday.
Mr Beirne said: “If the company does not face up to their responsibilities here, we will have to consider what legal avenues are open to us.”
Speaking from the scene,  the council’s Environmental Scientist, Larry Walsh said a specialist oil clear-up and remediation company was due on-site last night.
“They will give us an initial response and will work from 8am tomorrow (Tuesday) to carry out a more detailed assessment on the wider issues. From early today we deployed an oil-spill trailer, which installed oil absorbent booms in the gullies and culvert at the Carrowbeg River, as a precautionary measure. This is heavy fuel oil and so is not migrating but there is a major clean-up to be carried out on the site,” Mr Walsh said.
He confirmed that he spoke to the site foreman who in turn liaised with the contractor,  Mr Aidan Elliott.
Mr Walsh also said that the council would be issuing the company with notices regarding both planning and environmental matters.

Residents

SPEAKING on behalf of local residents, Cllr Christy Hyland said: “There is negligence here by somebody and I trust litigation will be issued. People’s cars and carpets are destroyed. I know one guy who brought his car to be valeted this morning and they couldn’t get the oil off the tyres. Other people returned from Mass and their shoes and floor covering were destroyed. It’s terrible,” Cllr Hyland said.

Contractor’s response
IN a statement to The Mayo News last night, Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd of Stradone, County Cavan, explained that during demolition work, involving buildings and tanks ‘an amount of residual oil that was left in a decommissioned tank was inadvertently released onto the site’.
The statement confirmed that the incident occurred on Saturday last and ‘immediate remedial action was taken to prevent any further leakage on the site’.
“Given the extreme rainfall over the period [of the weekend] the measures taken were inadequate and we were informed that some oil found its way onto the New Road and into the local authority storm water system.”
The statement said that on receipt of this information, the company immediately engaged the professional services of Enva Ireland Ltd, a specialist environmental clean-up company. It also confirmed that Aidan Elliott was liaising with the local authority and was committed to ‘ensuring the situation was resolved’.

Lidl response
IN a statement by Lidl to The Mayo News last night, it said that its professional team of Environmental and Safety Consultants had traveled to the site yesterday.
It stated: “Full assurances have been provided by Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd that all matters arising from the leak will be fully addressed to the satisfaction of Westport Town Council.”

The scene
WHEN The Mayo News visited the scene yesterday afternoon, a heavy stench of oil was in the air from the library towards the New Road. Workmen were clearing oil-soaked sand from the roadways as the special trailer treated gullies in the Crescent. Elderly residents made their way slowly – some wearing wellingtons – through the black morass of oil. Surrounded by safety signs on the temporary gates, the Lidl site was also covered in oil.