Waste firms told not to use farm facility

Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 01:00

THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency has directed three Dublin-based waste companies to stop using a facility at a Co Kildare farm to dispose of residual black bin waste.

Greyhound, Thorntons and Oxigen were using Cleary Composting near Monasterevin to dispose of so-called “organic fines” – the organic element of household black bins. The facility, based on the Co Kildare farm, did not have the valid permission to accept waste that may contain animal by-products, the EPA has said.

Cleary Composting had been processing green waste, such as garden clippings, since 2006, but in 2010 applied to Kildare County Council for a waste permit to accept up to 10,000 tonnes of organic fines. This material is mainly the food waste element of the household bin, which when processed can be used as a top layer to cover landfill sites.

Last August the company was granted the waste permit, and last October it began accepting organic fines.

Local residents began making complaints to Kildare County Council in relation to odours from the facility last January. The following month it emerged there was an error in the permit. A section of the permit states that animal by-products shall only be accepted in accordance with Department of Agriculture approval, and quotes an approval number for the Cleary Composting site. However it emerged that this number did not apply to Cleary Composting but to another compost facility in Carlow.

On March 3rd, the county council removed the invalid approval number, leaving the facility without permission to accept waste which may contain animal by-products.

On May 30th, the EPA wrote to Greyhound, Thorntons and Oxigen saying it had become aware of the amendment by the council to Cleary Composting’s waste permit.

“The agency is, with immediate effect, withdrawing our approval for the transfer of waste materials . . . from your facility to Cleary Compost Shredding Limited, Larch Hill, County Kildare.”

Director of environmental services with Kildare County Council Joe Boland said the addition of the approval number had been a “clerical error” which occurred during the drafting of the permit. “Errors do happen from time to time, and when this came to our attention three months ago we amended it.”

He said this did not change the fundamental principal that animal by-product wastes could only be accepted if there was Department of Agriculture approval. More clarity was needed to establish if organic fines came under the definition of animal by-product wastes.

Pat Cleary of Cleary Composting said he had never sought an animal by-products licence because he did not intend to accept food waste and it was his understanding he did not require the licence for organic fines. He said he was seeking direction from the Department of Agriculture on whether he was required to apply for the animal by-products permit.

Mr Cleary said he had an additional difficulty in that he had more than 1,000 tonnes of organic fines stored outdoors on his site, now covered with sheeting, which he now could not move on until he had the sanction of the Department of Agriculture.

“I am in limbo here and I don’t know what to do. There is a real lack of clarity surrounding this issue which isn’t helped by the fact that you’re dealing with three different bodies, the EPA, local authority and the Department of Agriculture.”

Mr Cleary said he had always complied with any request made of him by any of the authorities and would continue to do so.

Gary Brady of Thorntons Recycling said his company had used Cleary Composting in good faith on the basis of the permit being valid. The company stopped using the facility immediately after being contacted by the EPA.

A spokesman for Greyhound said it was no longer using the facility.

A spokesman for Oxigen could not be contacted.

In a statement the Department of Agriculture said whether organic fines are regarded as animal by-products was a matter of whether the materials in question contained animal by-products.

“The department’s dealings with individual business operators are treated as confidential,” it said.

Residents’ spokesman Mel Doyle said the smell coming from the Cleary farm was intolerable.

“The smell is like the bottom of a dustbin. There was no problem until they started taking in these organic fines; now people can’t put washing on the line.”

Mr Boland said the council was investigating the odour issue and had asked residents to submit a summary of their complaints.

Mr Cleary said there was occasional odour when the material was turned but the odour experienced by residents was from other sources. He would install any odour abatement measures he was directed to by the council or other authorities.

Second discovery bales of rubbish found at co kildare site

ALMOST 2,000 tonnes of waste owned by Dublin-based bin collection firm Greyhound Recycling has been discovered to be stored illegally on a second Co Kildare farm.

Kildare County Council said it found 2,000 bales of waste, each weighing just under one tonne, at a farm in Crinstown, close to Maynooth. Following an inspection, the council confirmed the waste had been deposited on the farm by Greyhound.

The Environmental Protection Agency was informed of the find by the council last Friday and yesterday confirmed it was also investigating the illegal storage of waste on the farm.

The Crinstown farm is the second one in Kildare found to be illegally keeping waste for the company, which took over Dublin City Council’s domestic waste collection service last January.

Last week it emerged that Kildare County Council had ordered Greyhound to remove 3,000 tonnes of its waste being illegally stored on a farm in Nurney. The council has since revised that figure up to almost 4,000 tonnes.

The council said it had not discounted the possibility that there may be further unauthorised waste sites yet to be discovered in the county.

The waste found on both farms is shredded municipal-type waste known as RDF – refuse-derived fuel – a product made from extracting dry materials such as paper and plastic from general household waste. The shredded material is commonly used as fuel in cement kilns.

Neither farm was licensed for waste storage. The council ordered both the site owners, as well as the owners of the waste, to remove the material to an authorised site.

The council directed the material must be moved only by a permitted waste collector. “All waste, in both cases, has since been removed,” the council said.

The new location of the waste is not known. A spokesman for Greyhound yesterday said it had no comment on the matter.

Greyhound has previously been prosecuted by the Environmental Protection Agency in relation to breaches of its licence for waste storage.