Half of EPA legal actions in 2013 involve waste facilities

More than 90 per cent of complaints due to bad smells coming from sites

The EPA’s 2013 Report on Waste Enforcement has called for an improvement in standards at waste facilities. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The EPA’s 2013 Report on Waste Enforcement has called for an improvement in standards at waste facilities. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Half of the legal actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2013 were against waste facilities, with fines and costs totalling €86,000.

The EPA’s 2013 Report on Waste Enforcement called for an improvement in standards at waste facilities around the State after nearly 550 complaints were made to the body about unpleasant odours and fire hazards in 2014.

Over 90 per cent of these complaints were due to bad smells coming from waste facilities.

Gerard O’Leary, director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said waste operators need to improve their environmental compliance by tackling issues such as odour management and waste handling.

“Residents living near waste facilities should not be subject to odour nuisance,” said Mr O’Leary, adding that 275 independent inspections were carried out at waste facilities in 2014. “The EPA will continue to take strong enforcement action to tackle these priority areas.”

The six waste facilities fined for non-compliance with standards include the Greyhound Recycling and Recovery plant in Dublin, AES Environmental Solutions (Ireland) Ltd, Inagh Landfill in Co Clare, Gortadroma Landfill in Co Limerick, Oxigen Environmental in Dublin and Behans Land Restoration Limited in Co Kildare.

The facility that received the highest number of public complaints in 2013 was Ballynagran Landfill in Co Wicklow.

The report also shows three fires were reported at waste sites in 2013.

Jim Moriarty from the EPA’s office of Environmental Enforcement said waste operators must take additional steps to operate their facilities more efficiently.

“Under the conditions of their licence waste operators are not permitted to exceed waste tonnage limits and must ensure that the necessary infrastructure to prevent odour nuisance is in place and operating correctly,” said Mr Moriarty.

He said the Irish waste market had changed in recent years, with increased movement of waste around the State and dramatic growth in the processing and export of waste.

Mr Moriarty added that better co-ordination between the 31 local authorities would help improve standards in the waste sector.

The EPA report also shows the number of open landfills for municipal waste dropped from 25 in 2010 to nine in 2013. It found less waste was being landfilled than ever before - 714,000 tonnes were landfilled in 2013 following a drop from one million tonnes in 2012.