The Avoca River in Co. Wicklow flows southwards through the Avoca Valley. It is overlooked by the upland areas known as the East and West Avoca mine areas. From the 1720's to the 1980's mining has played a significant role in the economy of Avoca. Copper was the principal mineral mined along with iron, silver and to a lesser extent gold. The mine area was subdivided into a number of properties in the 18th and 19th centuries. Each was named after the townland in which they were located. These were Connary, Cronebane, and Tigroney on the eastern side of the river, and Ballygahan and Ballymurtagh on the western side.
Pollution of the Avoca River by mine water from the abandoned mines is a long-recognised problem. The river is considered by the EPA to be the most metal polluted river in Ireland. Other hazards associated with the old mine workings are open adits and shafts, pits and waste spoil heaps.
Over the last decade, we have been working to identify and prioritise the health and safety hazards of the former mine site. In 2008, we published a report "Feasibility Study for Management and Remediation of the Avoca Mining Site" (pdf, 13MB). We are now working to implement this report focusing on the prioritised health and safety hazards.
In addition to the remediation work, we carry out regular monitoring of the site. This is to ensure no change in conditions occur on site without detection.