Three food plants responsible for third of EPA complaints

Most common complaints to watchdog were over foul odours

Public complaints related to air quality fell dramatically in 2018, down from 20 to seven per cent.  Photograph:iStock

Public complaints related to air quality fell dramatically in 2018, down from 20 to seven per cent. Photograph:iStock

 

Three food processing plants were responsible for over a third of all complaints made by members of the public to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year.

The most common complaint related to odours coming from licensed sites (57 per cent), followed by noise complaints (27 per cent), according to the environmental watchdog’s 2018 annual report.

The State agency received 145 complaints about Arrow Group, a large Co Kildare-based food processor.

In total the EPA received 799 complaints last year, and Glanbia Foods received the second highest number of complaints at 66, followed closely by Rosderra Meats (Edenderry).

The Arrow Group Kildare plant was included on the agency’s national priority list for enforcement action, due to odour and noise issues, the EPA announced on Thursday.

Last year EPA inspectors visited Arrow Group sites 35 times, nearly double the amount of visits to any other licensed site.

There was a drop of 22 per cent in the overall number of complaints made to the EPA last year, compared to 2017. The agency’s annual report noted 85 per cent of licensed sites had no complaints made against them over the year.

Public complaints related to air quality fell dramatically in 2018, down from 20 to seven per cent.

The environmental watchdog secured 13 convictions for regulatory breaches over the year, resulting in over €240,000 in fines, costs awarded, or donations from operators.

Rosderra meat plant in Co Offaly paid €26,168 following an EPA prosecution, the highest amount last year.

In total EPA inspectors visited 1,490 sites last year, nearly three quarters of all facilities licensed by the agency.

Inspectors opened 94 compliance investigations over the year, with a further 170 investigations open from previous years. Just under half of ongoing investigations related to water quality risks, with air quality the next most common.

Some 15 sites were placed on a priority list for enforcement action during 2018, including six food and drink processing sites, and five waste disposal sites.

Five sites were placed on the list in the first half of this year, including Arrow Group, Kepak Clonee, Youghal Landfill, and The Hammond Lane Metal.

Quinn Cement Limited, Co Cavan, were also added to the EPA watch list due to problems with air emissions.