IRISH Water has confirmed that they are not in a position to unveil a completion date for work on the removal of abestos pipes on the network between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery.
‘Rosscarbery is served from the Clonakilty water supply scheme and to date €3.8m for the replacement of 27.2km has been approved on the Clonakilty scheme by Irish Water,’ said a spokesperson. ‘This includes €129,000 to replace almost 1km of water mains along the N71 at Cahermore, which is the main supply to Rosscarbery.’
In relation to asbestos in the pipes in Rosscarbery, Irish Water said that there is no danger to the public and pointed out that asbestos is only hazardous when it is airborne (dust) and that the pipes present no hazard when the asbestos pipe is in service (wet).
‘All works to replace these pipes are carried out in accordance with approved health and safety procedures for working with material containing asbestos.’
An Irish Water spokesperson also added that Rosscarbery wasn’t unique in having asbestos in its water pipes. ‘The use of asbestos cement pipes was commonplace throughout the country until the mid 1980s and as a result a significant portion of the old watermains infrastructure comprises asbestos-cement pipes.’
Cork South West Fine Gael TD Jim Daly said he was well aware of the issues with the water pipe network at Rosscarbery and that the asbestos pipe issue is a nationwide problem.
‘The primary issue, however, for me is the water quality and pressure which is being delivered to the user and I want to dispel the myth that asbestos piping places any threat to public health, as this is not the case,’ he told The Southern Star.
‘Asbestos dust only become a threat to public health when it becomes airborne and inhaled,’ said Deputy Daly.
‘West Cork is receiving unprecedented investment in water infrastructure with €12m currently being invested in the Skibbereen water supply project and €5m in the Cape Clear network. The Rosscarbery area falls just outside the Skibbereen upgrade and is high priority for upcoming funding.’
However, Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard said the problems the residents of Rosscarbery are experiencing are ‘totally unacceptable’.
‘The supply was not available on approximately six to eight separate occasions during 2016 and on three separate instances between January 12th and 16th,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately for the residents of Rosscarbery, any project of this scale takes times for proper planning and preparation to be executed, but I want to assure them that I will continue to communicate with Irish Water as to ensure that this project is a priority and the issue is resolved as soon as possible.’