EPA names worst offenders for breaching environmental laws

Irish Cement , Tipperary Creamery Co-op among those on agency list

The Environmental Protection Agency has for the first time publicly named the worst offenders for breaching environment al laws

The Environmental Protection Agency has for the first time publicly named the worst offenders for breaching environment al laws

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has for the first time publicly named the worst offenders for breaching environmental laws.

The new initiative aims to further improve compliance at licensed industrial and waste facilities.

Those with the poorest compliance will be named publicly as a National Priority Site (NPS) for enforcement using a new rating system developed by the EPA. Points are allocated to sites based on data such as complaints, incidents and non-compliances over the previous six months.

Sites over a threshold become a NPS and are targeted by the EPA for further enforcement . The list will be updated every three months.

As of the end of June the NPS list included the Arrow Group, a food processing company in Kildare; Irish Cement in Mungret, Limerick; Rosderra Irish Meats Group in Edenderry, Co Offaly; T&J Standish, a sawmills facility in Roscrea, Co Offaly; and Tipperary Creamery Co-op in Tipperary.

Gerard O’Leary, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said: “A small number of sites have significant compliance issues, and we consider them to be National Priority Sites for enforcement.

“The EPA will escalate enforcement action against companies, and their directors, if necessary, if compliance does not improve.”

An EPA spokeswoman said the EPA’s motivation was to try and change behaviour. The agency was not being underhand in naming the plants involved, as the licensees knew for some time how they had been rated.

The EPA Industrial and Waste Licence Enforcement Report 2016, released on Tuesday, gave details of compliance levels and enforcement activities across 800 licensed facilities in 2016.

Claire Keating, spokeswoman for the campaign group Limerick Against Pollution, said it was pleased to see Irish Cement on the EPA list for problems associated with its manufacturing plant in Limerick.

The group is opposing a change-of-use proposal from Irish Cement, which has applied for planning permission to transform the way it operates and allow for the replacement of fossil fuels through the use of lower carbon alternatives, including used tyres, at the plant. The project has been costed at €10 million.

“While we are delighted the EPA is finally doing something about the plant. It has issued no fines in relation to a discharge in April,” Ms Keating said.

“It is still not compliant. It was required to clean up the site, which it hasn’t done. Why should they give them a new licence if they cannot control the process they are currently using,” she added.

Those living in the vicinity of the plant had to deal with the consequences, she said. “Irish Cement has no care for the community. There is no consultation,” she claimed.

“Following numerous requests, they have refused to meet us.”