First, I should like to thank you for facilitating me this evening in raising this issue on the Adjournment and in particular I thank Senator de Brún who gave way to this motion on the Adjournment because of its urgency. His motion, I understand, will be tabled and taken next week.
I am spokesman for this side of the House on planning. I wish to speak in particular about a certain industry in Ranelagh which is causing some distress. I would like by way of introduction to say that Ranelagh to most people in this city of Dublin would have been, over the years, a pleasant inner city residential area. The chief health inspector's report of 1982-83 reveals for the first time that the Ranelagh-Rathmines area of the city along with Ballyfermot and Cabra have exceeded for the first time the sulphur dioxide smoke levels laid down by the EC, an increase by 50 per cent on the 1981-82 winter. I hope the Minister faces up to the urgent need to introduce gradually smoke free zones in this and other parts of Dublin city, by way of a Clean Air Bill, in order to protect the hundreds of thousands of inner city dwellers, especially those in sub-standard housing who will run the possibility of lower IQ levels and the probability of increased respiratory or bronchial conditions if this is not done urgently.
What concerns me particularly today is the plight of residents in the Mount Pleasant area of Ranelagh who are affected by a lead polluting industry McGovern's of Prices Lane. This scrap yard had, over the years, created a nuisance, noise on unloading and loading of vehicles in this narrow laneway. However, in the last five to six years the activities have mushroomed to an admitted turnover by Mr. Kenneth McGovern recently of £2.9 million. This punitive operation today burns polythene casing largely supplied by Telecom Éireann, the ESB and Dublin Corporation, in a metal hopper and throws up a very damaging pollutant in the immediate neighbourhood. To demonstrate my point, I will pass a photograph taken by the chief health inspector's office to the Minister which shows in colour the terrible damage this pollutant is causing in the area.
The chief health inspector has already admitted that dust in the vicinity is contaminated to an alarming degree. The situation in Ranelagh is still bad despite prosecution under the Atmospheric Pollution Regulations, 1970 — £25 fine and £25 costs were achieved in court in 1982 — and there is currently another prosecution in hand by the chief health inspector, and the burning continues. In a report by the atmospheric pollution unit of February 1984 samples which I will quote are included. We are told by the chief health inspector that the figures I am about to mention are very high even classifying McGovern's as an industrial source. To put them in perpective the lead content of surface dust in Dublin is between 20 to 4,380 ppms. Yet in the four samples that have been taken in the analysis that I am just about to mention, sample one shows 22,777 ppms, sample two, 162,825 ppms, sample three 33,825 ppms, and sample four, 17,595 ppms. These are of the order of 12 to 15 times the average surface dust problem in the city of Dublin.
This must be the worst industrial pollution in Ireland although other serious problems exist, for example, the Mining Company of Ireland operation at Ringsend. There does not seem to be any real indication from the Department of the Environment that this industry must be forced to regulate its operation or relocate.
When is the Minister for the Environment either going to introduce a Bill to deal with this terrifying level of pollution situated directly opposite the home of the Minister of State in his Department and in a heavily built up residential area or amend the Atmospheric Pollution Regulations, 1970 and introduce the necessary registration of industrial processes like this by the chief health inspector?
There is a need in the mid-eighties to look at other improvements in these regulations such as fan ducts from dry cleaner establishments, factory chimney heights, flues from central heating boilers. All of these have been brought to my attention by the chief health inspector who, to say the least, with Dublin Corporation has been trying to deal within the limits of regulation and legislation with this kind of problem.
I cannot stress enough the public concern that exists on this issue. The Taoiseach, the Minister for Labour and every public representative in this constituency, not least myself because I am living perhaps closer than anybody else, a short distance on one side away from the Minister of State — we look at it from two different perpectives — are concerned to see the well-meaning residents locally given some identifiable support. Nobody would argue that the chief inspector and, Dublin Corporation are not attempting everything to resolve this situation. They are powerless without the necessary legislative changes that the Minister and the Department of the Environment should now produce. It cannot be said that the Department have not been given more than adequate time to respond. The present Minister for the Environment has not been in his post all that long but the Department of the Environment are well aware of the growing concern in relation to these premises over the last five to six years, say, from the time in which it turned from a very typical and traditional scrap yard into something that was taking in batteries and polythene casings and putting them through a burning process, producing lead and lead dust and causing people who are living within 20 feet of this operation fear and dismay. Their greatest fear and dismay is about whether or not we will get the response we are looking for. This is an opportunity that should be given to them, an opportunity that should be faced up to. I hope the Minister in his response can give a detailed timetable and a detailed response as to how he feels this plant can be regulated, whether it requires legislation or not, and that we will get down to doing something positive to clearing this nuisance.