Speaking at a meeting hosted by Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, on the proposed burning of waste at the Irish Cement Plant, Sinn Féin's Séighin Ó Ceallaigh highlighted the impact pollution could have on agriculture and the food industry in Limerick.
Mr. Ó’ Ceallaigh is a councillor in the Limerick area, and spoke at the recent meeting of the pollution caused by a local cement factory. He predicted that this pollution is not specifically limited to Limerick, saying bordering counties could also be affected. He said "Pollution does not recognise any county or constituency boundaries and will travel up to 30km in every direction from the cement factory. This will spread across Limerick City, into many parts of County Limerick, into South East Clare and even into Tipperary."
Mr. Ó’ Ceallaigh spoke also of meetings he has already had about the problem, he stated "Having met with the consultants who advised the local authorities planning department to approve of these plans, I was informed that dioxins, which may be emitted from the new materials, is actually tested for in cattle's milk."
He then called into question the risks of exposure to cancer related agents, questioning as to why meat and dairy products are shown to contain carcinogens and suggesting pollution may be the problem. He added "Dioxins will make their way into the food chain via dairy products and red meat, due to the fact that dioxins will be present in grass. This begs the question, is there any link between recommendations to consume less meat and dairy, and this new waste burning process. We have seen links made with cancer and these products, and you would have to question how these are linked."
Mr. Ó’ Ceallaigh then mentioned the work he and his team are carrying out to try and promote the area and develop its food industry. He then theorized that in the future should this high level of pollution continue that packages from local produce may have to contain a cancer warning, "As a member of the Economic Development Committee, we are working to promote the food industry in Limerick, and to brand food grown here. But will this brand have to come with a label saying "caution may contain cancer ?".
He concluded by calling on citizens to voice their concerns to the local authorities, before himself calling on the IFA to offer advice to members of the area, "I would advise anyone involved in agriculture or the food industry to voice their concerns with the local authority and the EPA, and I would further call on the IFA to advise its members in the areas affected, and to voice its views on the situation."