Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness is calling for improved monitoring of mines in the region. It follows the emergence of a sinkhole in a field near the Galmoy Mines in February. The area had to be sealed off after the hole, which was 9 metres deep and 15 metres wide, appeared.
“Residents living near the closed mine were alarmed when they learned of the sinkhole. There were concerns that the hole may have been connected to the closed Galmoy mine, which runs under the land, however initial investigations appear to have ruled out that possibility out. In response to a parliamentary question, Minister Fergus O’Dowd says investigations have been carried out by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, Kilkenny County Council and Lundin Mining; which is the parent company of Galmoy Mines. The initial review reveals the sinkhole was most likely caused by the presence of natural near surface cavities and the exceptional rainfall earlier in the year.
“The preliminary investigation also found the area has the increased potential for washout because of historic mining activity, which remains a concern. I would like to see a comprehensive assessment of the land around the closed mine carried out to ensure the safety of the surrounding ground. I’m also calling on the Department to publish a comprehensive schedule of inspections. When questions about the frequency of the assessments were raised, the Minister was suitably vague, confirming only that “regular” inspections are carried out on surface and underground mining operations. He also conceded that inspections of state mining facilities are only carried out twice a year”, commented Deputy McGuinness.
“I would like to see the number of inspections at mining sites increased in the wake of the appearance of this sinkhole. The Department has outsourced the inspection of operating mines to a UK company, but has not revealed how often reviews and check-ups are carried out. Safety both inside and around mines need to be a priority. The Government needs to outline how thorough its inspection system is. Residents living near operational and closed mines need to be reassured that their areas are safe.