A spokesman for the Department of the Environment has disputed a newspaper report today which suggests that the Government could face immediate fines of between €20,000 and €100,000 a day if it does not act quickly to clean up the former Irish Ispat site at Haulbowline in Cork Harbour.

He said there is no likelihood of fines being imposed.

He added that the notice, which was issued last week, is part of a long standing legal case being taken against Ireland relating to other waste legacy sites.

Haulbowline was mentioned because it had no waste license.

Referring specifically to the island site, he said significant progress has been made to clean it up but accepted that more needs to be done.

Chromium 6 was found during a clean-up operation in 2008.

Irish Ispat shut the country's only steel plant in 2001 with the loss of 400 jobs.

It had bought the plant from the Government in 1996 for one punt.

So far, €40m has been spent on cleaning up the island.

An Office of Public Works taskforce has been set up to look at future uses of the site, and a report is expected by the end of the year.

According to a spokesman for the OPW this afternoon, it will then be a Government decision whether or not to publish it.

The Department spokesman said any report would have to take into account clean-up solutions for the island.