Dump operators tell High Court waste was partially contaminated

Dublin landfill company sues over debris from Spencer Dock developments

The Four Courts, Dublin.

The Four Courts, Dublin.

 

The operators of a landfill dump are claiming in High Court proceedings that part of about 6,000 tonnes waste from the Spencer Dock development in Dublin was contaminated and not inert as they had been told.

Murphy Environmental Hollywood and Integrated Materials Solutions Limited Partnership, owners and operators of the 54 hectare landfill in Naul, County Dublin, is suing the Spencer Place Development Company, builders PJ Hegarty and Sons, and Barnmore Demolition and Civil Engineering.

Material

It is alleged demolition waste from Spencer Dock was delivered and placed into a sealed cell area of the landfill in February 2017. The following month, it is claimed, it was discovered the waste included contaminated and hazardous material in breach of the written promises that it was inert.

The claims are denied.

The case is awaiting trial in the High Court and the Barnmore defendant, which carried out demolition work at Spencer Dock, sought to inspect and test the landfill and the material in question.

In May 2017, the High Court granted an inspection order but disagreement arose over the extent of the inspection and the case went back before the court.

The dispute centred on the extent of the inspection with the landfill operators complaining Barnmore wanted to puncture holes in the sealed cell containing the waste in order to extract samples and go beyond the cell where the Spencer Dock waste was. Barnmore argued the inspection order did not confine them to inspecting a particular cell.

In December 2017, the High Court said the inspection should take place in circumstances where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would scrutinise it.

The EPA would act as a “neutral arbiter” in whatever approach is adopted to ensure that no environmental damage is caused by the inspection, the court said. The inspection could be done in accordance with certain protocols, it added.

The landfill companies appealed that decision, arguing the High Court erred in ordering an allegedly much wider inspection than was necessary. It was argued, among other things, sufficient weight was not given to the risk of environmental damage from the wider inspection.

Appeal

A three-judge Court of Appeal , in a judgment delivered electronically this week, dismissed the appeal.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, on behalf of the COA, said the High Court was entitled to conclude the proposed inspection protocol was compliant with the court’s inspection order and was the “least intrusive” on the site in order to satisfy the defendant’s requirements.

The court was also entitled to conclude the only real issue of relevance in the operators’ objection was the potential for environmental damage and the necessity for the EPA to approve the inspection works meant this concern was not justified, he said.