Caustic Soda Leak into Cork Harbour

Date released: Jul 02 2005

"The EPA were advised of the incident in Cork harbour by ADM, Ringaskiddy, on Sunday morning, 3rd July.  The company (ADM) advised that 250 tonnes of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) had leaked into the foreshore of Cork harbour during offloading from a ship. They also made clear  that they had followed industry procedures in such circumstances: They took samples from the harbour; they flushed the area with water; they notified the required bodies including the EPA, the South Western Regional Fisheries Board, Cork County Council and the Sanitary Authority. 

“From the outset, it was clear that there was no risk to human health and the impact on marine life was minimal and localised. 

“The EPA’s priority is to protect the environment and human health. It was clear, as soon as we were advised of the incident that there was no risk to human health and therefore a public action plan was not required. The company, ADM, commenced an internal investigation.  We in the EPA have initiated our own separate investigation. 

“Caustic soda is a non-toxic material used in the process of making soft drinks.  Nonetheless, the EPA considers the spillage to be significant demonstrating a serious breakdown of systems at ADM, Ringaskiddy.  All enforcement options remain open to the EPA and appropriate enforcement action will follow.

“A Site Inspection Report was issued to the company on 18th July setting out a number of corrective actions required by the EPA.  The report is available to the public.  The company are required to investigate and report on the incident and address the concerns raised by the EPA by 28th July.  All information in the response will be made publicly available."