UPDATED STATEMENT REGARDING SUBSIDENCE IN CO. MONAGHAN
Gyproc apologises for the upset caused and continues to support affected families
Gyproc will continue to work with our neighbours of 80 years to resolve concerns
Options to fast-track support for GAA Club & Community centre being explored
Subsidence events, including sinkholes* and crown holes*, are known to occur as both a natural phenomenon and as a result of mining activity. Gyproc fully recognises that while these events are not unusual in the mining of evaporate deposits such as gypsum, they do impact the local community and we apologise to our neighbours of 80 years for the upset caused by road closures and loss of access to facilities. Gyproc has a long and respected mining history in the area and continues to work with our neighbours and community in a collaborative and transparent manner to resolve any concerns we can.
Since the subsidence at Magheracloone GAA Club in Co. Monaghan in September 2018 Gyproc has been in repeated contact with Monaghan County Council, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Magheracloone GAA Club & Community Centre, home owners, and community organisations, to provide up-to-date information and support. During this time two separate and independent consulting firms have investigated the subsidence and both firms have reached similar conclusions about the unusual and complex combination of factors that caused the subsidence at Magheracloone GAA Club.
Our primary initial focus was on supporting the families in the five homes that were originally included in the precautionary area of investigation. We have completed the geological studies of any impact of mine workings on those properties and engaged structural engineers to review each dwelling, sharing the outcome of the report with each resident or their representatives. Following these reports some residents have since returned to their homes while some have chosen not to. Where residents have chosen not to return to their homes, we have continued to support them with alternative accommodation. We do understand and appreciate the difficulties these families have faced and have met with all parties. Our dedicated family liaison officer also remains in place to continue supporting these families when needed. We are also working to ensure that any claims from these residents are dealt with as quickly as possible.
We are also focused on supporting Magheracloone GAA Club and Community Centre. We are working with both the GAA Club and the Community Centre to support the creation of a new and long-term home in light of the subsidence on the existing club grounds. We are also working closely with the GAA club in the provision of significant funding to support their efforts to open temporary facilities in the next couple of months in time for the opening of the GAA season. We have been in discussions with both the GAA Club and the Community Centre recently about how we can all work together to fast track the original proposals to acquire the GAA lands and develop new state-of-the-art facilities in a new location. This proposal is part of a wider strategic investment in the area by Gyproc in excess of €20m.
In addition to our reporting to the relevant authorities and recognising the concerns of local residents, we have distributed information pamphlets and updates to all residents in the Magheracloone area eircode. A number of local residents have also availed of the invitation to meet with us directly to discuss any queries or concerns that they have.
In a separate event, and approximately three months after the subsidence at Magheracloone GAA Club and Community Centre, we notified relevant authorities of the appearance of a separate and unrelated crown hole on our lands on the 19th December 2018. As we believe this to be a crown hole and thus relates to mining activity, we are currently studying the cause and any potential risks through an extensive program of works agreed with EMD and Monaghan County Council officials. The investigation currently underway involves drilling rigs, consulting engineers and our own mining teams with a focus on completing this work as speedily and comprehensively as possible.
Gyproc’s focus is on supporting the community that we have been part of for over 80 years and we would like to thank our neighbours and the community for their patience and support as we carry out these investigations and works.
*What is a sinkhole and a crown hole?
Sinkholes are a naturally occurring phenomenon where soluble rocks are close to the surface. Over long periods of time water flowing beneath the surface dissolves the rock forming a series of underground channels and cave systems. At some point the cave becomes too wide and the roof falls. This causes the overlying rock to collapse which can result in a sink hole at the surface. These features are common in limestone / chalk areas as well as gypsum and other evaporate deposits. The size of the feature on the surface is a function of many factors but mainly the depth of the soluble rock from the surface and the characteristics of overlying strata. Their size and occurrence is almost impossible to predict other than identifying a very large area that is at risk.
Crown holes look very similar in appearance to a sinkhole and are formed in a similar way other than the void into which the overlying rocks fall is the old mine workings. They occur because the roof of the mine workings has failed (similar to the failure of the roof of a cave in a sinkhole) and this allows the overlying rock to fall into the mine workings.
The key differences are that the areas that are at risk from crown holes is much less extensive than sink holes, covering only the mining areas and these are generally well understood, compared with vast areas where soluble rocks are near the surface. Furthermore, the engineering characteristics of the mine workings can be evaluated and the risks at specific locations (i.e. public roads etc) can be better understood and mitigated.