If the oil slick which threatened the south of the country in recent weeks had struck the Waterford coastline the County Council had no resources for an appropriate response.
Tramore Town Councillor James McCartan, reacting to a response in that vein from Senior Council Engineer Pat McCarthy, said he was astounded.
“Mr McCarthy confirmed to me that the Council had no resources in place to protect areas such as Tramore Bay from a major oil spill”, he said disbelievingly. “In the event that oil pollution hit the shore, they would simply make contact with the coastguard to see what should be done”.
Cllr McCartan (Ind) said that was a totally unsatisfactory situation. “We would need to be well prepared in advance of any oil spillage”, he commented. “There is a lot at stake. If for instance a major oil slick hit Tramore Bay it would cause extensive damage to the beach and to National Heritage areas that could take years to recover. The damage also to oyster beds, spawning grounds and juvenile fish stocks would be irreparable”.
He said it was time the Council got its act together in that context. “We have been lucky with the oil spill off the Cork coast, but we may not be so lucky next time”.
He suggested that a full test exercise should be organised along the south east coast, involving volunteers. The test, he submitted, should involve the use of oil booms to protect areas such as Tramore Bay and Wetlands, to see if that would actually work.
“Only then, in light of the test results, could we review adequacy of equipment, training and the effectiveness of any draft plan provision”, he said.
“Sitting around and waiting till the oil hits our beaches is not an option and it is about time the Green Party spoke
out on the issue. There is an urgent requirement for local authorities to be resourced so that they can combat oil pollution, with advance plans ready for implementation in the event of an emergency”.