Legal Case Against Toxic Bauxite Refinery

Futureproof Clare is a grassroots environmental organisation with members in Munster and beyond. We are raising money to pay legal fees to take a Russian-owned aluminium refinery operating in Co. Limerick to court. Why? Because they want to expand a disposal area for toxic mining waste beside an area of conservation on the Shannon Estuary.

Aughinish Alumina is the largest aluminium refinery in Europe and is located on the Shannon Estuary. It is an unsustainable operation, importing mined bauxite which causes rainforest destruction. Furthermore, when the bauxite is refined in Aughinish, a waste red mud by-product is created and stored in purpose-built dams. Already there are over 35 million tonnes of waste material stored in dams created by the refinery - and now the factory plan to expand the red mud disposal area using a controversial rock blasting process.

Aughinish Alumina guzzles 11 percent of Irish gas, has been given illegal tax breaks, and, more recently, over 2 million taxpayer money from the IDA. The refinery is part-owned by a Russian billionaire sanctioned by the US and UK for corrupt business practices.

Futureproof Clare is up against a David versus Goliath situation. Will you help us? We need to raise 11k in legal fees to pay experts in environmental law to protect the Shannon and the surrounding locality.

Local farmers and residents have long claimed that residues from the Aughinish refinery have made animals and people sick. In 1997, the waste from the factory was classified as hazardous, and Inspectors reported that groundwater was contaminated. Somehow, blood and soil samples were lost by state bodies, which could have linked local health issues with contaminants from Aughinish.

In the 1990's, the local farmers did not have a legal team to continue to press the issues. Now that we know we are facing a climate and biodiversity crisis, we at Futureproof Clare believe that we must do everything we can to prevent a bad situation from getting even worse.

Aughinish Alumina has already created over 35 million tonnes of waste which is stored on the banks of the River Shannon. With your help, we want to stop them from making more of an environmental mess. If we win this court case, Aughinish will not be able to expand its red mud waste disposal area.

Futureproof Clare is working on advice from environmental and legal experts, who believe that rock blasting and expansion of the waste area are extremely unsafe. In Hungary in 2010, 10 people were killed and over 400 injured because of a failure of a red mud waste disposal area, similar to the one on the banks of the Shannon in Co. Limerick. There have been 247 similar dam failures in the last 100 years, with breaches increasing due to heavier rainfall due to climate change.

A further expansion to the dam containing red mud on the Shannon Estuary could result in Ireland's most significant environmental catastrophe. The Shannon Estuary area is a designated Special Area of Conservation and home to otters, bottlenose dolphins, bats and owls. Species could be decimated if the dam were to fail, and experts believe that Aughinish Alumina has not sufficiently considered the full environmental impact of its current operations nor of its proposed expansion.

Many believe that the red mud and dust from Aughinish are already an environmental concern. While the refinery employs some 400 people, it is also thought that more sustainable employment can be brought to the area instead of the polluting practices of the bauxite refinery.

There are holes in Aughinish's environmental inspection report which Futureproof Clare can bring to the High Court's attention - but only with your help.

Would you be willing to donate money to the campaign to stop more rock blasting and expansion to the red mud area at Aughinish Alumina refinery?

We know times are hard, but if you cannot donate, can you take a moment to share this fundraiser as far and wide as possible?
Thank you for any support you can give.


Futureproof Clare
County Limerick

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