SIGNIFICANT RISKS from methane gas remain on a €450 million site in Dublin’s docklands despite an attempt by the owners to get Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clearance that the lands are safe for development, a former EPA inspector has warned.
The Irish Glass Bottle property in Ringsend is owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) together with developer Bernard McNamara and financier Derek Quinlan, using a company called Becbay partly funded by a €288 million loan from Anglo-Irish Bank. Becbay claims the lands have been fully cleaned of the pollutants left by decades of industrial use and should no longer be considered an industrial site. They say it should therefore be free for development.
In March, Becbay applied to the EPA to drop the requirement for an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Licence, which was needed during the period of Irish Glass Bottle’s operations on the Ringsend lands since 1994.
In a submission to the EPA, one of its former inspectors, Malcolm Doak, however, warned that 30 per cent methane gas levels exist on the lands and that “a significant gas risk still remains on-site”.
Urging the EPA not to agree to the surrender of the licence, Mr Doak said a decision to do otherwise would “set a new precedent for contaminated land remediation in Ireland”.
Arup Consulting Engineers produced a report for Becbay in March, which declared that “all vestiges” of the Irish Glass Bottle operations have been removed from the site, and that the lands are in “a satisfactory state”.
In a letter to the EPA’s office of environmental enforcement, Arup director Niamh O’Sullivan said Arup’s report “provides an independent closure audit for the facility”. Ms O’Sullivan is also a director of the DDDA.
Space created under car-parking spaces and other services would “create a wide and ventilated physical barrier” between polluted lands “and the future habitable spaces of the new development.
This option allowed for leaving deeper deposits of the legacy landfill in place, hence reducing the quantity of waste that required export and disposal,” said the report.
Meanwhile, difficulties in deciding on valuations of properties and assets owned by the DDDA have delayed the submission of the body’s accounts to Minister for the Environment John Gormley.
The accounts, once published, are likely to put the State body into deficit for the first time, reflecting heavy losses sustained on the €450 million Irish Glass Bottle deal – one of the biggest deals of the property boom.
The authority’s then chief executive, Paul Maloney (who resigned on Tuesday night), promised the Oireachtas Committee on Environment last February to publish the accounts by the end of June “at the latest”. “They are definitely delayed. They won’t be published until the autumn,” an authority spokesman told The Irish Times.
“The docklands authority’s accounts for the year 2008, which will include valuations for the authority’s property and development assets are currently being prepared and will be submitted to the Minister for Environment, Heritage Local Government in autumn 2009. The annual report on activities for 2008 has already been submitted,” the authority said in a formal statement.
Fine Gael TD Phil Hogan, in a letter to authority chairman UCD professor Niamh Brennan, demanded full details of the retirement agreement reached with Mr Maloney, whose term of office ran until the middle of next year.
“I noted your statement regarding the early retirement of your chief executive Paul Maloney on July 29th ,2009. I am seeking to establish the terms of his retirement and his financial settlement. I am also interested in your reference to the challenges facing the DDDA that lie ahead,” wrote Mr Hogan.
“During the course of the committee meeting last February, it was clear that there were concerns regarding good corporate governance. Could you indicate if you have addressed the concerns raised and if you will seek to ensure that the board of the DDDA implements new procedures in respect of its decision-making?” he asked
The inadequate and reckless treatment of sewage in Ireland is slowly but surely destroying our waterways and coast.
Ireland is renowned for its stunning seascapes but, even by our standards, Lough Swilly in north Donegal is exceptionally beautiful. From its gentle beginnings at Letterkenny to its dramatic mouth flanked by Fanad and Dunaff Heads, the Swilly unwinds over 30 miles into the open Atlantic.
However, as occupants contemplate Lough Swilly's moods from their picture windows - its name means the Lake of Shadows - few will ponder whether the water is as wholesome as it looks. Practically none will conjure the revolting image of their own bodily waste swilling around among all that natural beauty.
Such concepts do not compute in the Ireland of chilled chardonnay, luxury health spas and New York shopping trips. For, surely, the second-richest OECD nation doesn't pump raw excrement into the sea?
The Earls famously flew from there in 1607 and Wolfe Tone was captured there in 1798. Under the terms of the 1921 Treaty, the British retained the Swilly's naval forts until 1938. With its majestic scenery and scope of history, the Swilly could be a microcosm of coastal Ireland, past and present.
In common with the rest of the country in recent years, the Swilly has also witnessed a runaway construction boom, with myriad new-builds and clusters of holiday homes mushrooming around its shores. One of the many side-effects of wealth seems to be a powerful desire for a sea view, and the sheltered Swilly now provides maritime vistas for many homes along its length.
However, as occupants contemplate Lough Swilly's moods from their picture windows - its name means the Lake of Shadows - few will ponder whether the water is as wholesome as it looks. Practically none will conjure the revolting image of their own bodily waste swilling around among all that natural beauty.
Such concepts do not compute in the Ireland of chilled chardonnay, luxury health spas and New York shopping trips. For, surely, the second-richest OECD nation doesn't pump raw excrement into the sea?
Yet last month, the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland for regularly doing precisely that in no fewer than six locations. Letterkenny was one of them. The others were Howth and Shanganagh (Killiney) in Co Dublin, Bray in Co Wicklow, Tramore in Co Waterford and Sligo town.
'Urban waste water' is a polite term for sewage, but it also covers 'grey' water from baths, showers, washing machines and dishwashers, as well as other unsavoury fluids that the typical householder flushes away with maximum speed and minimum thought.
The term also covers much of the water discharge from industry and commerce. All of this goes somewhere - many who have endured flooding will also have witnessed first-hand the revolting contents of their local sewer. But even under normal circumstances - as can be divined from the geographic spread - the problem is that, all around the coast, too much waste water ends up untreated in the sea. If Ireland does not clean up its act, just as with greenhouse gas emissions, taxpayers face fines of many millions of euro.
There is a common perception of officious EU bureaucrats poking around member states looking for things to find fault with. In fact, last month's ruling was based on information that Ireland is obliged to provide every two years via the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All the damning evidence about Letterkenny, Howth, Shanganagh, Bray.Tramore and Sligo was contained in the EPA's Urban Waste Water report for 2004-05, which was released in 2007.
In one of his first acts as environment minister, Green Party leader John Gormley flew to Brussels to head off impending trouble on a number of so-called 'legacy issues' - so called because previous administrations had not bothered to deal with them. As Gormley says on his own website: "It's serious. We could well be facing fines for years of neglect of EU directives. I have to turn this around in a very short space of time."
On the subject of urban waste water, Gormley had to tell EU officials that, according to Ireland's own figures, 11 per cent receives no treatment, between 18 and 30 per cent does not receive secondary treatment, and nearly 90 per cent does not receive nutrient reduction beyond secondary treatment, sometimes called tertiary treatment - which is best practice when disposing of such unpleasant stuff.
The EU directive on waste water dates from as far back as 1991. The 2004-05 EPA report listed the six above-mentioned agglomerations as not having adequate secondary treatment facilities - which they should have had by the end of 2000. Indeed, the required level of treatment was absent from 30 out of 158 agglomerations - nearly one-fifth of the areas tested. Local authorities, which are responsible for dealing with urban waste water, were found to have tested many sites incorrectly, or not at all.
Last week, the EPA noted in its Environment Ireland 2008 report that, "the situation in the Swilly estuary appears to have further deteriorated since the previous assessment".
Proper sewage treatment is expensive and requires long-term planning. Historically, testing and enforcement practices have been lax, to say the least.
It's a familiar story in Ireland with anything that requires both political forethought and substantial sums of public money, such as developing and building roads, transport, schools, hospitals and landfills. The pace of development has often far outstripped infrastructural provision. Most basic failings cannot be masked by the sea; unfortunately, sewage can - at least, up to a point.
If the Swilly is a microcosm of coastal Ireland, then Letterkenny is a modern example for the urban. It has expanded exponentially since the early 19905, with chaotic strips of white and magnolia nouses consuming the hillsides all around what used to be a modest, valley-nestled town with a cathedral spire and, not so long ago, the only set of traffic lights in Co Donegal. Lifford is the administrative capital, although visitors perhaps understandably assume this to be Donegal town. But thanks to its location, Letterkenny is the de facto powerhouse of the county. Until recently, new hotels, shops and car showrooms opened at a dizzying rate, as a growing populace quickly filled its new suburbs and spread into the surrounding countryside.
So Letterkenny had buckets of cash yet, as the European Court bluntly states, its sewage plant "is not capable of systematically treating all the discharges of the agglomeration". Thus, the stinking by-product of growth regularly ends up in the picturesque Swilly.
Again, this a familiar story. In south Dublin, bathers at Seapoint, Blackrock, Monkstown and Dun Laoghaire regularly complain of a brown sludge in the sea that looks and smells like sewage. The county manager and his staff are on the record as blaming algal bloom - too much seaweed - yet local residents report human faeces floating in the water and even complain of falling ill after breathing the sea air.
All these places are within a few miles of the ineffective treatment plant at Shanganagh and, when currents dictate, one can imagine Bray's whiffy problem drifting into play, too. For if it looks like sewage and smells like sewage, then it probably is sewage. Also, one of the causes of algal bloom is too much sewage in the water - like fertiliser, it nourishes the seaweed.
Thanks to poor water quality, Donabate beach at Fingal and Greystones beach in Wicklow lost their Blue Flag status in June, as did Rosses Point in Sligo, Youghal front strand in Cork, Duncannon in Wexford and Bunmahon in Waterford.The latter is five miles along the coast from the troubled plant at Tramore.
Killiney beach lost its Blue Flag a few weeks ago, after tests by the local county council showed coliform levels 50 times higher than the acceptable Blue Flag limit and higher, even, than the much less stringent national limit, making it technically unsafe for bathers.
Both Lisfannon and Portsalon beaches in Lough Swilly retained Blue Flag status, although both are some distance from Letterkenny and better cleaned by tides. However, Rathmullen in the Swilly lost its Blue Flag status due to an antiquated pipe that releases raw sewage beside it.
The EC Quality of Bathing Water report for 2007, published last May, shows four coastal areas in all of Ireland as unfit for bathing, or 3.3 per cent of bathing waters. This is marginally better than Britain at 3.5 per cent and slightly better than France, Sweden and Portugal, but not as good as Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, the Netherlands, Finland and, surprisingly, Greece - and also below the EU average of 2.2 per cent. This is hardly exemplary for a low-population island constantly scoured by the Atlantic which markets itself to tourists as "unspoiled".
To dilute urban waste water adequately, it needs to undergo a number of processes. Preliminary screening removes large solids, macerates them and returns them to the flow. Grit is also removed, then primary treatment settles the flow in sedimentation tanks, forming a sludge.
In secondary treatment, micro-organisms are used to reduce the nutrient content of this sludge through a variety of methods. Tertiary treatment reduces this nutrient content even further - mostly phosphorus and nitrogen, which can overstimulate plant or algal growth that, in turn, decays, depriving receiving waters of oxygen.
Tertiary treatment is still far from standard practice in Ireland. Getting the basic secondary phase into operation - or even up to scratch - is our current problem. Not only that, but in times of excessive rain or heavy use, systems can overflow, in which case the untreated sludge empties into rivers and coastal waters. Sometimes tides and currents disperse the overflows quickly but, in calm or enclosed conditions, sometimes they don't.
And there's another problem. Precise figures vary, but roughly two-thirds of Ireland's population live in cities or towns, and are served by mains sewerage. Approximately one-third don't and aren't. Most rural homes either have their own septic tanks or belong to group schemes. Along with agricultural run-off, mismanagement of individual tanks and schemes is largely to blame for regional drinking-water bans, like those plaguing Galway.
When a septic tank or scheme isn't functioning properly, the contents are often diverted into the nearest ditch or stream. When the source is inland, that contaminates the supply.
When a house - or group of houses - is by the coast, it is very easy to direct raw waste straight into the sea. Indeed, homes with direct outflows are still not unknown. The monitoring of urban outflows may be behind the curve, but so many rural developments have exploded willy-nilly, often with the most cavalier interpretation of the planning rules, that authorities simply do not keep track.
Add to that the further problem of sludge emptied mostly from large one-off or group schemes. This is handled mostly by private contractors using tankers with suction pumps. Contractors are supposed to be licensed and take their collected sludge to treatment plants, where they're supposed to pay the going rate to have it legally processed.
Sometimes, these plants will be overloaded and might turn them away. Sometimes, contractors won't pay for disposal or may not even have a licence, in which case there is much anecdotal evidence of raw sludge ending up in farm slurry tanks, in fields, rivers, lakes, forests and, of course, coastal waters.
Any tractor towing a slurry sprayer can empty a septic tank and deposit the contents at will. Before human waste is sprayed on land, it's supposed to be treated. The EPA reckons that, during 2004 and 2005, some 92,530 tonnes of dried sludge were legally spread on agricultural land and a further 20,698 tonnes went to landfill.
There are no estimates of illegal sewage dumping, but it could amount to a liquid version of the municipal waste scandal of the past three decades, only much harder to detect.
John Mulcahy lives in Portsalon by Lough Swilly, and is a member of Swan, the Sustainable Water Network, which comprises 30 environmental groups campaigning jointly for the full implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. His local group is called Save the Swilly, although his analysis could apply to many other parts of Ireland, not just Donegal.
"The quality of waste water treatment feeding into the Swilly is sub-optimal," he says. "Letterkenny is the fastest-growing town in Ireland and its system is simply not coping. The problem is that not all the money earmarked for waste water treatment under the county development plan - more than EUR60 million - has been fully implemented."
Letterkenny hopes to have adequate secondary treatment facilities operational by the end of 2009, but Mulcahy questions whether this will happen, saying that current works are at least five years behind plan. He has also been trying, without success, to get answers out of local officials about current plant capacity, and whether this allows for the tonnage of sludge that private hauliers are licensed to bring to the only place where it can be legally disposed of.
"The challenges are national and huge sums of money are always mentioned but, when it comes to implementation, often the budgets aren't really there."
For example, in the wake of last month's EU judgment, Gormley promised investment in water services of up to EUR500 million, but in the current financial climate, all sorts of infrastructural projects are being axed. Whether adequate sewage treatment will be made a priority very much remains to be seen. On past performance, Mulcahy is not over-optimistic.
"Industry also causes problems. Within the past 18 months, I've had regular reports of tankers unloading straight into the Swilly, and yellow and green effluent being dumped in streams and sewers. The system cannot deal with everything that's going into it, so sludge is overflowing or being dumped around the county because some of the hauliers don't have an alternative."
It is a truly grim portrait of a country waking up from the hangover of a boom only to find itself awash in its own filth. The bottom line, Mulcahy says, is that there's not enough control. "There has been significant development along this coastline, but how is it being monitored? Is it all in compliance? A rebalancing is needed; the emphasis no longer needs to be on development, but rather on compliance."
Phil Hogan, Fine Gael's environment spokesman, laid into Gormley after the EU judgment, citing government inertia and claiming that Gormley was "disingenuous" to press local authorities for action on waste water when he was "well aware" that towns and villages needed more finance.
But it is also profoundly disingenuous for any of the mainstream parties to be scoring points off Gormley in this matter. As with national government, local councils tend to be - and have historically been - controlled by either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, with Labour playing a lesser role in some urban areas and the Greens only lately getting a look-in.
Disregard for EU directives at national level and central government edicts at local level is widely practised in Ireland. It stems from the post-colonial mentality where, if someone from a far-off institution in Brussels or Dublin thinks he's the 'boss', the 'man on the street' can set him straight by disregarding or disobeying his commands.
This has been happening with sewage, according to the EPA, with local authorities not even bothering properly to sample 38 per cent of small facilities in 2004-05. When samples were taken, 43 per cent of them were taken incorrectly. This means that credible discharge readings were not even possible for more than six out often small treatment plants.
Mulcahy is right. The emphasis needs to be on enforcement and compliance. Furthermore, whatever money is available for sewage treatment needs to be pressganged into action immediately. Local authorities need to overcome their own inertia and significantly speed up the planning, tendering and construction processes, as if their jobs depended on it. The problem is that, in Ireland, incompetence and inertia tend not to be punishable offences.
Gormley must know that the new EPA report into waste water will not make edifying reading; he must dread the prospect of sharing it with Brussels. Sources at the European Commission say that, if Ireland remains in contravention, fines of hundreds of thousands of euro a day could be the consequence.
"Europe wants Ireland to sort out this mess, but member states can only remain non-compliant for so long," said a source at the European Commission. "If that continues, then the next stage of this process is the court setting a fine."
If the prospect of slowly sinking into our own excrement is not sufficient motive, then perhaps the prospect of punitive fines might be, especially if their reality can be hammered home to all concerned. As Gormley is also Minister for Local Government, hopefully he will find a way to do that.
The EPA is
planning a conference specifically on waste water compliance, at which
it will presumably air its latest figures, to show that statutory
bodies, at least, are trying to force some constipated movement in the
Ireland of a thousand not-so-welcoming waterways.
Â© Sunday Business Post 14.10.08
MORE than one million people are drinking tap water from public supplies on an official pollution "name-and-shame" dossier finally published yesterday.(April 2008)
The 339 public supplies listed -- many of which are identified as not removing deadly bugs properly, such as cryptosporidium -- provide drinking water to 1,260,541 people.
The damning list, affecting more than a quarter of the population, was finally published yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
By Sinead Hogan (Anglo Celt) March 2007
THE foul smell being emitted from the dump at Corranure was again the subject of discussion at the February meeting of Cavan County Council, and Director of Services Mr. Frank Gibbons has apologised on behalf of the Council to residents who have been affected by it. On this occasion, Cllr. T.P. Smith raised the issue stating that the odour has been ongoing for about a year, but particularly problematic in the past month. He stated that the smell spans a very large area including Butlersbridge, Castletara, Ballyhaise and Cavan, and that there are rumours abounding that it may be toxic.
Cllr. Madeline Argue called on the Council to clear the air, as people everywhere are asking what the problem is and if the gas that is escaping might be harmful. Cllr. Charlie Boylan pointed out that people from the locality where the dump is situated, including his own relatives, have been very tolerant and are seeking assurances that the Council is committed to rectifying the problem. His fellow Sinn Fein Cllr. Pauline McCauley had previously brought to light the fact that a concerned parent had brought her child home from attending Breffni College one morning such was her concern as to the nasty odour in the area. Cllr. C. Boylan stated that there are a lot of people sick in the area surrounding the dump. While he didn’t wish to scaremonger, people are concerned and rightly so, he said.
In response, Director of Services, Mr. Frank Gibbons, explained that with improvement works underway for the last month the smell has worsened, but the Council is committed to ensuring the landfill is operated to the highest standards. He stated that they have engaged consultants to deal with the issue and said he wished to acknowledge the problem and apologise to people in the area where it has impacted. Mr. Gibbons said that the gas in small quantities is “more irritating than a health hazard”, but said the unpleasant odour can cause nausea and headaches. He suggested that Councillors could arrange a visit to the site to inspect it. Cllr. C. Boylan agreed that they should take up the offer to satisfy themselves and reassure the people they represent
February 2007: Cork council officials still trying to close down illegal dumps.!
COUNCIL officials, aided by gardaí, have closed off a suspected illegal dump in Cork, which could contain tens of thousands of tonnes of waste. On foot of a warrant, Cork County Council environmental officers and a number of gardaí went into the site at Sarsfield’s Court, Glanmire, yesterday.
A council spokeswoman said the site covered a number of acres and while it mainly contained construction material, an initial inspection had also uncovered household waste. However, she said investigations were at an early stage and attempts to discover what was in the sub-soil were being hampered because much of the waste was lying on a steep slope and officials were concerned it may subside into the valley below.
The slope descends towards the River Glashaboy and it is feared that the waste could cause a water pollution problem, although council officials regularly monitor drinking water in the area and are confident it hasn’t been contaminated. It is expected that it may take several days, if not weeks, before they can ascertain the full extent of what is buried on the site.
The council said it obtained a warrant against Greenwood Skip Hire on January 24 last and had sent the company, operated by David Greenwood, several notices to desist, which were ignored. Local residents had made a number of complaints about the site and it’s understood the council’s enforcement section had been monitoring the area for several days. "Another notice was presented to him (Mr Greenwood) in front of the gardaí yesterday for him to cease trading and not to continue to bury anything on the site. He has no permit to collect waste or to operate the site," the council spokeswoman said.
Mr Greenwood maintained he’d done nothing wrong and was just importing topsoil onto the site. He also said that no burning of waste had taken place on the land, despite accusations to the contrary from the council and local residents.
"I have nothing to hide," Mr Greenwood added. The council said it would vigorously pursue Greenwood Skip Hire in the courts under section 14 of the Waste Management Act (1996) which, on conviction, could lead to a fine of up to €15 million and/or 10 years in jail. The council said it hadn’t yet ascertained who owns the land.
"The last person mentioned on the land registry is deceased, so at present we can only initiate proceedings against the operator," the spokeswoman said. Councillor John Gilroy, who lives close to the site, said he was "appalled" by what he saw.
"There must be tens of thousands of tonnes of waste there. Our main concern at present must be the protection of the River Glashaboy. I commend the council for taking this action," he said.
© Irish Examiner
ANGLERS announced in July 2006 that Killarney's major tourist lake, Lough Leane, was in as bad a state as it was a decade ago.
Kerry County Council this weekend erected signs warning about a potentially deadly toxic algal bloom as water levels dropped.
DJ Riordan, of the Killarney salmon and trout anglers group, said: "Too much phosphate is going into the lake. The good work of the Lough Leane working group has petered out and matters have slipped back to 1997."
There’s continuing concern about group schemes throughout the island, with the EPA describing the quality of water in private group schemes as the "most challenging" issue facing those charged with responsibility for drinking water in Ireland.
Rivers and lakes are the source of 75% of our drinking water and, as has been well documented, such sources have become seriously polluted.
Many private group schemes — more than two-thirds in Roscommon alone — have become contaminated by waste from farmyards or septic tanks. Up to 150,000 households depend on private schemes for water.
The EU Water Quality Directive is binding in Irish law. Failure to comply with this can result in severe penalties on the Government, which has set aside around €600m in the National Development Plan to improve the water situation.
Local authority engineers and rural water liaison officers have been told that time is running out for Ireland to meet its obligations. At a recent seminar in Athlone, the National Federation of Group Schemes was told that the European Court of Justice is likely to impose penalties sooner rather than later.
The seminar was organised in response to a letter received by Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Aherne that the European Commission is unhappy with progress since the judgement of the European Court of Justice in 2002, which found that Ireland is in breach of water quality standards in group schemes.
The letter indicated that the Commission is preparing to refer the case back to the European Court so that penalties can be imposed.
According to the latest issue of Rural Water News, there’s an urgency "about finding solutions to poor water quality and having a proper monitoring regime countrywide."
However, a recent study has shown that the scale of the remedial task is "significantly greater" than was thought some years ago.
A national monitoring programme has identified 229 privately-sourced group schemes, which are not included in the European Court of Justice case. Of these, 107 do not comply with water quality standards.
Back in Wicklow, illicit dumping poses a cancer threat' to 750,000 people .An underground water source feeding a reservoir supplying water to 750,000 people in greater Dublin is contaminated with illegal waste dumped on Roadstone's lands, it was confirmed in August 2005. Cancer-causing pollutants have been found in the groundwater, Wicklow Co Council said.
At a press conference , Environment Minister Dick Roche was urged to intervene in council planning decisions following a serious threat to the water supplies in Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. Dublin City Council has slammed a Wicklow Co Council decision to grant permission for Roadstone to expand its sand and gravel quarry at Deerpark, Blessington. It warned the development posed a serious risk to water quality at Poulaphouca Reservoir, which supplies over half the population in greater Dublin. In a letter read out at a press conference in Blessington yesterday, Wicklow Co Council said tests demonstrated "significant contamination of the aquifer has already taken place". Pollutants included heavy metals, lead, barium, iron and inorganic chemicals "all indicative of landfill leachate". They included PAHs, "rated as carcinogens". A Wicklow Co Council spokesman conceded groundwater was contaminated but said there was no need to "unnecessarily scare people". There was "as yet no evidence of contamination of drinking water", he told the Irish Independent.
Toothless,ineffectual government quangos-"The Environmental Protection Agency" Much ado-and more civil service jobs about, nothing.!
The grandiose named 'Environmental Protection Agency' has issued a draft decision refusing Roadstone permission for a licence to create a landfill on its property to deal with illegal waste dumped at its quarry, because of the likely impact on water supplies. Roadstone said it would remove all the waste to a licensed faility elsewhere if directed to do so by the EPA. The minister was also called on to appoint an investigator into illegal dumping during the press conference.
Green Party chairman John Gormley said there had been a "collapse in confidence" in the council after it granted planning permission to Roadstone for a 12.58 hectare quarry at Deerpark, Blessington. An Taisce chairman Frank Corcoran said the recent council decision to require Roadstone to develop a landfill on its lands at Blessington above a regionally important aquifer was "inexplicable". Independent councillor Tommy Cullen said the matter was a catastrophe "waiting to happen".
THE ENVIRONMENT DESTRUCTION AGENCY.?
THE Environment Protection Agency was accused in 2005 by An Taisce Chairman Frank Corcoran of rewarding those who dump illegally. Mr Corcoran said that instead of the authority issuing a demand that illegal dumps be removed, the EPA is allowing them to become official dumping sites. "Even if criminals choose to dump on an aquifer, which is an underground store of drinking water for the local community, or beside the Poulaphouca Reservoir in Wicklow, or on the spawning grounds for salmon on the river Slaney, or on protected landscapes such as Special Areas of Conservation - the Environmental Protection Agency, rather than insisting that the illegally dumped material be removed, is now considering rewarding the landowners with lucrative licences to turn them into licensed dumps," he said.
He also accused the EPA of failing in its duty to monitor the paperwork on the disposal of hazardous medical waste. In a public lecture in Wicklow Mr Corcoran criticised the environmental body for ignoring international best practise in relation to waste management in favour of outdated nineteenth- and twentieth-century techniques of dumping and incineration.
"Local communities can choose themselves to embrace the New Zealand model of sustainable waste management, involving maximum recycling, the phasing out of dumps, and non-reliance on incinerators," he said.
September 2005; the E.P.A. conclude their lengthy deliberations with a fact finding report.;
THE country is sinking under a tide of illegally-dumped rubbish.! People are burning it in their back gardens or paying fly-by-night van men to remove it, knowing full well it will be thrown in a ditch or taken to an illegal landfill dump. At least 25 of these dumps have been found and there is more than a million tonnes of rubbish in them. The shocking picture of a people turning a blind eye to the filth we create is revealed Sept 2005 in a report on The Nature and Extent of Unauthorised Waste Activity in Ireland. It reveals that as many as three quarters of a million people - one in five households - are burning their rubbish to avoid waste charges imposed by councils. It exposes a network of 25 giant illegal landfills containing 1.2m tonnes of rubbish. And it discloses the sites of other unauthorised waste facilities, including several run by local authorities. The report follows an investigation by the Office of Environmental Enforcement. It discovered that, since the introduction of bin charges, 21pc of families are not availing of any legal rubbish collection service. Many are burning their rubbish in the backyard - 80pc of local authorities reported that backyard burning of rubbish is now a major problem.
"Many households are managing their waste by backyard burning," concludes the damning report. Backyard burning produces more cancer-causing dioxins than hundreds of regulated incinerators working round the clock. Other families are handing their rubbish over to illegal 'man-in-the-van' fly tipping operators, another growing problem. According to the report the biggest scourge at the moment is the massive amount of construction and demolition waste being illegally dumped, with "significant evidence of mismanagement of this waste."
It reveals a total of 25 illegal landfills, eight of which contained household waste. These were discovered in Monaghan (3), Wicklow (3), Cork (1) and Meath (1). A further 17 illegal dumps contained commercial and industrial waste or construction and demolition waste. A total of 15 waste facilities, recycling and composting as well as transfer stations were found to be operating without proper authorisation including facilities operated by South Dublin Co Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Council and Waterford City Council.
The OEE, part of the Environmental Protection Agency , says the fact that some of the unauthorised facilities are owned and operated by local authorities was "of major concern." It says a major headache facing enforcement agencies is the growing problem of householders and businesses handing over their rubbish to unauthorised small-scale 'man-in-the-van' operators who fly tip the waste illegally off backroads and in bogs and forests.
Organised fly-tipping was discovered adjacent to all major population centres.
The report recommends that local authorities adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to waste management. They should also lead by example and ensure their own facilities are fully compliant.The report would have better served the public by recommending the total abolition of this form of double taxation,as ordinary citizens will continue to fight this iniquity which sees old age pensioners paying for the crimes of rogue dumpers who have made millions over the past decades.
According to the 'Nature and Extent of Unauthorised Waste Activity in Ireland Report' the increased cost of waste management, driven largely by higher landfill gate fees contributed to fly-tipping, backyard burning and more organised and larger scale illegal dumping. However, the report says the "overly cheap" nature of waste management practices in the past has left a significant burden to this day, with many local authorities now paying to sort out problems with older landfills. This includes pollution control and costly site capping and restoration. "Effectively the widespread failure to address these issues at the time when many older sites were receiving waste has meant that the site users were being subsidised, either by present day taxpayers or by current users who have to pay the current high levels of landfill gate fees," it adds.
Will we see a trebling or a quadrupling of the bin taxes,on the common people in the coming years Bertie, pray tell us.? Fool us once-we're the fool...
Now,A TALE OF A TOOTHLESS INEFFECTUAL ENTITY/Quango SET UP,BY FIANNA FAIL, WITH A FANCY TITLE ,TO DECEIVE THE PUBLIC.
"The EPA is determined to bring to justice those responsible for two of the biggest ever of Environmental illegal dump sites uncovered in Co Meath." (yeah yeah..)
The EPA’s Office Enforcement in co-operation with Meath County Council has begun gathering evidence in an effort to prosecute those responsible. "The focus of the initial investigations will be to gather sufficient evidence to establish who was responsible for the illegal dumping that has taken place and to bring to justice those involved in this environmental crime," EPA programme manager Matthew Crowe said yesterday. "This incident highlights the importance for all waste producers of only using the services of authorised waste collectors for the collection of their waste. Only local authorities and those with a valid waste collection permit are authorised to collect waste," Dr Crowe said. Illegal dumping, he said, was a serious environmental crime that can have severe consequences for both human health and the surrounding environment. "The EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, by working with local authorities, the gardaí and other State bodies through the National Enforcement Network, is intent on stamping out this type of activity and ensuring that those responsible for it are held to account for their actions," he said.
The dumps, which were found in the Duleek and Drumconrath areas, are estimated to contain around 10,000 tonnes of waste each.
The Labour Party’s Meath by-election candidate, Cllr Dominic Hannigan, has called on the Government to increase resources to local authorities and the EPA in order for them to pursue criminal prosecutions against illegal dumpers. "Illegal dumping is becoming very common in rural Ireland and there seems to be no coherent response or proposals coming from local and national Government," he said. "The experience of illegal dumping in Co Wicklow shows that the investigations into illegal dumps which were discovered took months to reach a conclusion," he said. "That cannot be allowed to happen here." Fianna Fáil’s election candidate, Cllr Shane Cassells, accused the dumpers of having no regard for the people or environment of the county. Perhaps Shane Cassells could persuade his own party to bring in the kind of Draconian legislation that is now needed.!
Another incredible story of corruption and cronyism and unchallenged pollution in the county of Offally;
T.J.Standish sawmills. 7 long years poisoning the soil-and it does not even have a licence to operate.!!(until now) THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned it is "unhappy" with the actions of a controversial company which used a cancer-causing toxic chemical that escaped into local groundwater.
T&J Standish Sawmills, Aghancon, Co Offaly, is being prosecuted by the EPA. It has been operating without planning permission for the past seven years and is at the centre of a major planning and pollution storm.
Dara Lynnott, the EPA's Office of Environmental Enforcement director, in a letter to a local action group in 2005 said the agency was "not satisfied" at the level of compliance by the company with its pollution licence. He said the chemical Chromium has been detected in samples taken from a local river. The chemical was made infamous in the film 'Erin Brochovich', in which the title character, played by Julia Roberts, exposed the contamination of a town's water supply by industry. "The farmer whose lands are adjacent to the river has been advised not to dredge the river as a precautionary measure," said Mr Lynott. He said tests were being carried out on the contaminated sediments in the river to determine the potential impact if they were disturbed. Depending on the outcome of these tests "further follow up enforcement action will be taken." Whatever that means.! Pray do tell us Bertie.?
And when the poisons begin to take their toll,and T.J.Standish has disappeared into the dark night of history -question :will the "Environmental Protection Agency" and the State ( the taxpayer as represented by Bertie) then be amenable to massive litigation proceedings by those affected,or poisoned due to criminal negligence for the 7 long years of total indifference, and inadequate legislation and law enforcement by a Fianna Fail government and its minions on the local council there ?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now happily granted a new "pollution control licence" to T&J Standish Sawmills in Co Offaly. The EPA said, however, in May 2005 that it would go ahead with a prosecution against the sawmills in Roscrea District Court for breaches of the company's current integrated pollution control licence.!! Busy times for the lawyers and what a waste of citizens taxes.
A paltry fine at worst,certainly amounting to less than the cost of bringing the case to court in the first place. The EPA has of course previously successfully prosecuted (read wasted more money) the company for breaches of its existing licence and recently warned farmers in the area not to dredge a local river because of pollution from the plant.
Among those warned not to dredge the river were the family of Minister of State Tom Parlon, who farms nearby.! Among other inconveniences ,the business was refused planning permission for retention of its buildings by An Bord Pleanála in July 2003. A subsequent application for retention was however approved by the Fianna Fail golden circle club, Offaly County Council, a decision which is itself now under appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
Deborah Standish welcomed the decision to grant a new licence ."We have it now." she declared to the media,and added in a "two fingers up"comment , "You can print a big spread." Members of the Aghancon Concerned Residents Association said they were "deeply disappointed by the action of the EPA". A spokesman told The Irish Times that residents in the valley had campaigned against the licence. "We're gutted. Where is the EPA's role as protector of the environment?" Where is the Office of Environmental Enforcement here?" Indeed, and when are the next elections.?
The EPA has granted the Sawmills a proposed licence, under their Licence Review System. This licence was granted on the 17th May 2005, the same day that their inspector was on site noting further pollution and non compliance with EPA conditions. Recently the EPA failed to have a second prosecution (which commenced inOctober 2004) heard in Roscrea District Court. The Case was adjourned for a second time, on this occasion because a Witness for the Defence could not appear. The case may not be heard until the end of 2005.
The Residents now await a decision by An Bord Pleanala due on the 15 of September 2005. However this decision has been delayed on several occasions and may not appear on the given day. The original decision was due on the 04 July 2005, but has since been delayed by An Bord Pleanala.The complaints against the Sawmills now also form part of an EU complaint against Ireland (2000/4384) currently being dealt with by the Minister for the Environment. Friends of fianna Fail, poison the populace and the drinking water, at will!!
NONE of the private water schemes supplying drinking water to Irish households meet minimum standards, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),December 2005.
A report also found that just under 20pc of all water supplies in the country were contaminated with E.coli at least once during 2004.
'The Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland' reported that 7pc of the population is supplied by private schemes, none of which are deemed to be "satisfactory".
More than 20pc of these contained an unacceptably high level of the potentially fatal bug, E.coli.
Public schemes in four counties - Sligo, Kerry, Donegal and Leitrim - were also found to have traces of E.coli on more than one occasion.
"As such its (E.coli) presence in drinking water is a good indication that either the source of the water has become contaminated or that the treatment process at the water treatment plant is not operating adequately," the report stated.
2. 'They're bulldozing our home to dump rubbish' Report,October 2004;-
JOHN and Bridget Lenehen spent five years building their dream home. They picked a site on land owned by their family for generations and looked forward to spending their lives in tranquil, rural Ireland.
But yesterday the Lenehens and their 10-year-old son Kevin were bluntly told their home would be demolished to make way for the country's biggest ever superdump.
"We're being evicted," Mrs Lenehen said "They are going to bulldoze our nice home just to dump rubbish."
The Lenehens join eight families who are to lose their houses - some newly built - and long-standing farms, for the dump in the close-knit community at Tooman in north Co Dublin.
All of the property owners in the area of the planned superdump were offered huge sums of money last year to sell their holdings to the promoters of the €7bn Vega City Theme Park plan, it was also learned yesterday.
On the very day Fingal County Council rejected the giant theme park plan, the authority won a court battle to allow it survey the same land for a superdump.
The affected families were personally visited by council officials in the past 48 hours to inform them that their houses are to be knocked down and land acquired for the dump.
Mrs Lenehen, who heard the news shortly before the officials arrived at her home, was devastated but also annoyed with the council for shooting down the giant theme park plan, and then turn around and build a superdump on the same land.
"It is simply awful to think that all our homes are to be demolished. We are in shock. It is comparable to a death in the family. Our community has been murdered," she said.
Mrs Lenehan said that all of the local families were last year offered twice the market value of their homes by the Vega City promoters. "How can it be suitable for a dump when it is not suitable for a theme park, which would not have been an eyesore," she added.
Farmer and horseman Jim Monks also stands to lose his entire farm and the family home, which has been in the Monks's name for seven generations.
"We heard the news yesterday," Mr Monks said. "It's very hard to take. Our house is very old - it dates back to 1710 and my family have always lived here and farmed this land. We've no idea what we're going to do at this point." Another neighbour John Short, whose home is also set to be knocked down, spoke of his disgust with the local dump plan saying that his family would be uprooted from the area.
Meanwhile, Nuala and John McGuinness only built their dream two-storey home seven years ago in the tiny picturesque village of Tooman in north county Dublin. Along with their three children Roisin (6), Lauren (4) and Richard (3), the couple thought they were set for life bringing up their young family in a safe, and beautiful area. The McGuinness home won't, however, be knocked down as they are not one of the eight houses facing demolition. "We only found out about this yesterday at 6.30pm. We were just totally shocked, completely taken aback, just devastated really," said Mrs McGuinness. Her neighbours, Joe O'Leary and his daughter Margaret, were in a similar situation. "I'm 50 years living here myself and this will change our lives," said Mr O'Leary. It would never happen to lands owned by the Bovale Bailey Boyos,or builders, Brennan McGowan.
Another dilemma was simultaneously exercising the minds of councillors from west Wicklow, including Mr Edward Timmins, Mr Tommy Cullen and Mr Jim Ruttle, who finally outlined their opposition to the proposals, a which allowed the criminals who had made huge fortunes operating illegal dumps in this picturesque County-sometimes called "the garden of Ireland.! -to cover up their crimes with a layer of top soil.!!
They heroically called for all of the waste to be removed.Dream on good councillors. Mr Timmins said it was the only way to restore public confidence.
Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of domestic, commercial and hazardous waste have yet to be moved from four illegal dumps, three years after they were discovered, Wicklow county councillors heard in end, 2004.
Council officials told the councillors that they had encountered difficulties in getting the owners of most of the sites and those suspected of the illegal dumping to deal with the waste.
Councillors were also told that there were serious concerns about the potential impact of illegal dumps on drinking water at lands in Blessington, owned by CRH subsidiary Roadstone, which said it had been unaware of the illegal dumps until they were discovered by the council.
The details emerged during an emergency debate by councillors to discuss proposals by Roadstone to deal with up to 115,000 tonnes of illegal waste on its site by removing recyclable and hazardous material, and burying the remainder in a one-off landfill.
The proposals have met with considerable opposition from locals in the Blessington area, who protested outside the council chambers yesterday afternoon, along with residents living near other illegal dump locations.
The proposals manager Mr Eddie Sheehy said that Roadstone had worked closely with the council to find a solution to the dump problem, and that it was the the only landowner to date to have done so in relation to the illegal sites.
The company had to date paid the council more than €550,000 towards the cost of investigating the site.
Mr Sheehy also said that the council had recently been paid €200,000 by another illegal dumper for the investigation cost in relation to another site at Coolnamadra.
However, he said that a High Court order from 2002 to remove the waste, some of it hazardous medical material, had yet to be complied with.
The council has also issued a warning notice in relation to Whitestown, the site of the largest illegal dump, estimated at over 250,000 tonnes, he said.
The council has also received no definite proposals in relation to the clean-up of another large site in west Wicklow - Stevenson's Quarry.
Mr Sheehy added that the site of the Roadstone dumps was on an aquifer, which supplies drinking water to houses in Blessington.
This was "a matter of serious concern to us", he said.
However, he pointed out that continuous testing of water supplies had resulted in no discoveries of contamination to date, although he acknowledged there could be the possibility of some ground water pollution on the site.
What exactly was Martin Cullen doing -except destroying Archaeological sites up and down the country-during his long reign in the Department of the Environment.? Could Fianna Fail organize a piss-up in a brewery?
Irish taxpayers routinely foot a massive monthly bill to dispose of toxic diesel laundering chemicals dumped by the roadside in the border counties.
Sept 2005; An environmental team from Monaghan County Council yesterday dealt with a toxic threat to a number of farms and waterways between Castleblayney and Carrickmacross after almost 10,000 litres of chemical mix were dumped at a number of different locations. It was thought that the dumped chemicals may have been used to remove dye from diesel by cross-Border smugglers so that the diesel could be sold as non-rebated commercial fuel.
Containers holding more than 4,000 litres of the chemical mix were dumped at a lay-by close to the main Dublin-Derry road near Broomfield and other containers were found at locations near Carrickmacross. The substance has to be removed to a recycling plant at Scotch Corner in Co Monaghan and transferred to special containers for shipment to Germany.
Despite claims by the E.P.A. in recent press propaganda spin,that they are clamping down on outlets who retail the stuff, the activities continue unabated ,although it is believed the laundering factories have now moved north of the border to those parts of the U.K. where neither Bertie;s or the Queen's writ runs;and the Provos are king.
It is now time to put out of business any establishment selling this stuff. It will never happen under a Fianna Fail Government.
Oct 2006, newspaper article Irish Independent.
ACTION is needed to shut down businesses involved in the multi-million euro trade in illegal fuel on both sides of the Border.
The International Monitoring Commission (IMC) wants new Government licensing regimes to freeze out those caught dealing in smuggled fuel.
In its latest report, the IMC says paramilitary groups, mainly republicans, have been involved in the trade for years and also take a share of the profits from criminal groups.
It says the massive fraud is three-pronged: Laundering legal agricultural fuel by removing the identifying dye and then reselling it at full price; smuggling laundered or legal fuel from the South, where duty rates are lower, to the North; selling the fuel through retail outlets in the North.
Two thirds of the 650 Northern stations sell illegal fuel to some extent. 230 sell it mainly, figures show. Over the past four years, the IMC noted, the trade had been reduced but it was still a major activity, which generated huge profits.
The report also highlighted safety risks and cited the use of curtain-sided lorries carrying large tanks of 20,000 litres, secured only by wooden batons, with the fuel delivered at night with a hose running from underneath.
Current regulations were geared towards public safety and the authorities had no power to revoke a licence or close a petrol station because the operator had been found selling illegal fuel.
As a result of the trade in illicit fuel, oil firms had sold their retail outlets in the North, as it was no longer profitable there.
All this.. under a Fianna Fail /McDowell P.D."Law and Order" administration ?
The Green Party has said the reform of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be a key issue for the party in the event of negotiations with other political parties following the next general election.
The party claims major changes are needed in the structure of the agency, and that "fundamental" new legislation is needed.
Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said the experience of many people was that the EPA was "fundamentally flawed".
The party said a key weakness was the lack of an independent appeals body for the licensing process for major industrial facilities such as incinerators, chemical factories and landfills.
It also complained that the directors who run the EPA did not come from a wide enough base.
Two of the directors came from business, while none had backgrounds in environmental charities or organisations, the party said.
Green Party finance spokesman Dan Boyle, who handed a petition into the Department of the Environment with more than 2,000 signatures calling for changes to the EPA, said more powers should be given to an advisory board for the EPA, which should include environmental and community representatives.
"This organisational restructuring would go some way to addressing the perception that exists in many local communities that the EPA is too close to the business lobby," Mr Boyle said.
The party said serious reform was also needed in relation to the penalties imposed on firms convicted of pollution.
Although fines of up to €15 million and jail terms were provided in the legislation, the average fine in 2005 was €2,559 per case.
The party said this was an insufficient deterrent for illegal operators who could make the same money from one load of illegally dumped waste.
The party said it would like to see the licensing and enforcement roles completely separated within the organisation.
Mr Sargent said he believed new legislation was needed to replace the existing laws governing the EPA, which were now 11 years old.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said there were no plans at present in relation to changing the structures of the EPA.
© The Irish Times
Over 40 sewerage schemes awaiting funding.
A TOTAL of 44 waste water schemes approved in a 2005 Galway County Council budget never received funding, despite their absence putting pressure on their water situation.
Only one sewerage scheme in Headford, costing approximately €8.96m, ever progressed to the construction stage after gaining initial approval by the local authority in 2004.
Other schemes, including nine small schemes programmes, five rural towns and villages initiatives and 30 waste water schemes all due to start in 2005 and 2006 were never followed through.
Rural towns like Athenry, Barna, Clifden, Glenamaddy, Kilkieran, Clarenbridge and Dunmore are now suffering the consequences of a decision that one councillor says is a result of red tape and increased bureaucracy in the Department of Environment.
Local Fine Gael councillor Tom McHugh says he has been campaigning for his native area of Dunmore to get a sewerage scheme for over five years. "It's frustrating and it's affecting the water quality because impurities are continuing to go into the water," he said.
© Irish Independent
1. Prosecute CRH for illicit dumping, says An Taisce chief
TWO men charged in Sept 2005 with illegal dumping and pollution on Cement Roadstone Holdings (CRH) sites have been described by An Taisce as "fall guys" for the company’s poor environmental record. John Healy from Blessington and his son Francis were charged with illegal dumping in relation to incidents in January 1997 and December 2001 when they are accused of disposing "lorryloads of waste without a waste licence". A second charge was brought for dumping "in a manner that caused or was likely to cause pollution". Frank Corcoran, chairman of An Taisce, said the decision by James Hamilton, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), not to bring criminal charges against CRH, the owners of the land, is clearly contrary to European Union environmental law.
Bertie Ahern, and Fianna Fail represent "The Irish authorities who have refused to take criminal proceedings against Roadstone and under legal precedents they must do so," said Corcoran. The European Court of Justice last year ruled that criminal charges must be brought against companies that own sites which have been polluted. Corcoran is bringing a case against the Irish government in the European courts for failing to act against CRH.
Stavros Dimas, the EU environmental commissioner, has asked An Taisce to compile a report on the illegal dumping and pollution of groundwater at a series CRH sites in Wicklow. A spokesman for CRH last week said: "No charges have been proferred against the company or anyone in it."
The two men charged last week are directors of Blue Bins, a sewage and refuse disposal company. The plant hire company had unlimited access to CRH sites for several years. During the course of the investigation, environmental investigators from Wicklow county council discovered eight separate illegal dumping sites byoverflying the 600-acre site with thermal-imaging equipment that spots the higher temperatures of decomposing waste. Three of the sites were described as having "substantial" amounts of waste and three more as in need of remediation.Half the estimated 100,000 tonnes of dumped material found by investigatorswas domestic and the rest was construction and demolition waste. Wicklow council has orderd CRH to remove the waste, but the Environmental Protection Agency must issue a licence.
CRH’s first application for a licence, which included a bid to create three new landfill sites, was refused by the DPP. The decision is under review and will be decided by December.
Until then CRH is forbidden to handle the waste, so it remains in situ. Meanwhile the citizens pay escalating bin taxes to line the pockets of these corporate criminals, such as C.R.H. in whose offices , the ghost of Des Traynor still holds court for both illegal dumping, and the Ansbacher/caymen Islands deposits of C.J.haugheys circle of "Friends of Fianna Fail"
This company made fortunes operating monopolistic cement manufacturing plants in the republic,for decades, with government complicity,and is now involved in Toll roads and Waste Facilities-clearly not all of them within the law of the land.
March 2006; Offaly Farm Silage Caused Deaths of Hundreds of Unique Fish
The silage effluent of an Offaly farmer caused the death of hundreds unique fish, a sitting of Roscrea District Court was told.
Before the court was John Standish, Leap Castle, Roscrea and a case was brought against him by the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board. He was fined €1,269 by Judge Mary martin. Standish pleaded guilt to the offence of permitting deleritorious matter to fall into the river on the 22 of June last.
The fish in question is the Croneen trout which is unique to the Birr area and is to be found nowhere else in Ireland or the world.
The river was the Carncor and the area affected by the effluent stretched for 3 kilometers.
An Officer for the Fisheries Board said significant infrastructural works on Strandish’s farm would have to be carried out to ensure that this wouldn’t happen again.
He said the Fisheries Board officers visited the farm again but no infrastructural works had been carried out.
The Officer said that on the 22nd of June he and a colleague had walked down to the River Carncor to a stretch of the river which is ‘a very significant spawning area for the Croneen’.
‘We found hundreds of dead fish there and downriver, for a stretch of three kilometres, and many of the fish were in an advanced state of decay.
‘We traced the flow of silage effluent back to Mr. Standish’s farm. After he talked with us he then dug a hole beside the silage pit and the effluent that was flowing into the Carncor was redirected to this hole.’ The officer added, however that this hole would not serve as adequate infrastructural works.
The defending solicitor said this accident had occurred following a spell of inclement weather. ‘The inclement weather caused the blocking of a vital drain and therefore the silage flowed out and into the river.
The Fisheries Officer commented that this couldn’t be true because the dead fish in an advanced state of decay revealed that the silage effluent had been pouring into the river prior to the period of inclement weather.
Judge Mary Martin remarked that she was treating this matter in a very serious light . She was told the defendant had no previous convictions. She convicted and fined him the maximum fine of €1,269.
‘We all have a duty of care towards the environment’, commented the Judge, ‘and a duty to be extremely careful in what we do regarding the environment. We must preserve it so that future generations can enjoy it when we are all dead and gone’.
© Midland Tribune.
A load of rubbish: 25pc of us are dumping all our waste !
A QUARTER of Irish households are disposing of their rubbish illegally, an official report reveals in January 2005.
More than 24pc of Irish households have either no access to collection services or don't use them, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Waste Report for 2005.
This means that 202,940 tonnes of household waste are being secretly disposed of - either burnt or handed over to illegal fly-tippers. It is against the law to burn household waste or give it to unlicensed collectors.
And despite an expensive high-profile government recycling campaign, Irish households are sending an astonishing 77pc of rubbish to already overflowing landfills. This was a small drop of 1.7pc on 2004 figures.
Environmental law review ruled out despite ‘derisory’ EPA fines
The Department of the Environment has ruled out a review of environmental protection law, even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) obtained just €162,700 in fines from prosecutions last year.
The Department of the Environment has ruled out a review of environmental protection law, even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) obtained just €162,700 in fines from prosecutions last year.
This total was unusually high due to the €110,000 in fines imposed on the Shannon-based multinational, Schwarz Pharma, last February for 11 charges, including the emission of suspected carcinogens into the air.
When the Schwarz Pharma verdict is stripped out, the EPA obtained €52,700 in fines last year - an average of about €2,770 per prosecution.
The cost of bringing environmental prosecutions regularly exceeds the penalties imposed.
According to EPA figures, the agency was awarded costs of €209,911 by the courts last year.
An EPA spokeswoman admitted that the fines the agency could obtain were limited because it could only prosecute offenders in the District Court, where penalties are lowest. The maximum penalty for environmental offences in these courts is €3,000 per charge and a year’s imprisonment.
Although cases can be taken in higher courts by the Director of Public Prosecutions, this rarely occurs. Just three cases were heard in higher courts last year.
In each case, the EPA had attempted to bring a District Court prosecution, but the judges refused to accept jurisdiction due to the serious nature of the charges. These included the Schwarz Pharma case.
The EPA spokeswoman declined to answer questions about whether the EPA regarded these penalties as a sufficient deterrent. She said, however, that the EPA’s prosecutions had led to improved environmental standards in Irish businesses.
‘‘Legal actions taken by the EPA have led to significant investment in improvements to site infrastructure and clean-ups," she said. ‘‘This investment was estimated to be in the region of €19 million in 2005."
However, Fine Gael’s environment spokesman, Fergus O’Dowd, said the fines being imposed were ‘‘derisory’’ for significant environmental breaches.
‘‘The EPA is doing a very good job in policing the environment, but it needs to be supported with tougher fines," he said. ‘‘What is the point of bringing people to court if the fines are so small?"
O’Dowd said that maximum fines should be at a level where ‘‘companies will remember them’’.
However, a spokesman for the department said fines were a matter for the courts to decide within the limits set by legislation.
He said that the department had no plans to review the legislation governing fines, which were last increased in 2003.
© Irish Times
AN Irish pharmaceutical giant appeared in court in January 2007 following a three-year criminal investigation into waste management practices which sparked a major food scare in Europe.
Wyeth Medica Ireland is facing multiple charges over the disposal of contraceptive waste from their factory in Newbridge, Co Kildare, which ended up in pig feed in Europe, causing the animals to become infertile.
With a civil claim also pending, US multinational Wyeth has set aside almost €69m to cover the cost of legal actions against its Irish unit in the matter.
AHP Manufacturing BV, trading as Wyeth Medica Ireland, was served with a Book of Evidence in relation to 18 offences under the Waste Management (Trans Frontier Shipments) Act, 1996, at Naas District Court yesterday.
Cara Environmental Technology Ltd, which managed disposal of Wyeth's waste at the time of the alleged offences, was jointly served with the same Book of Evidence in relation to 13 charges under the same law.
Judge Murrough Conellan referred the case forward for trial at the Circuit Criminal Court in Naas on February 13, 2007.
He said he took it there was no question of legal aid being needed in the case.
David Noonan, a Wyeth director, was designated as the company's representative in the matter and on that basis was remanded on a bond of €500.
Mark Woodcock, Cara's solicitor, was designated its representative and on that basis was similarly remanded.
Judge Conellan said issues of disclosure raised by counsel for Cara were a matter for the Circuit Court.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has brought the case following a three-year investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
The outcome could be of crucial importance for Wyeth, which is facing a multi-million euro civil law suit from disgruntled pig farmers in Europe who claim to have suffered massive losses as a result.
The case centres around disposal of a waste stream containing the contraceptive and hormone replacement therapy drug, Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (MPA), manufactured by Wyeth in Newbridge.
It is believed that the sugarcoated casing of the drug was incorrectly labelled, resulting in it being exported to Belgium where the now-bankrupt company Bioland processed it into treacle, which was then used in pigfeed.
The contaminated syrup containing MPA was also used in soft drinks, which had to be recalled from the market to stop humans consuming the drug.
The case first came to light when thousands of continental farmers reported their sows were no longer producing piglets.
Wyeth is one of the biggest American multinationals currently operating in Ireland and employs around 1,400 employees at its one million square foot Newbridge factory.
It also employs 1,200 people at its BioPharma campus in Dublin and has plants in Askeaton, Co Limerick and Sligo, manufacturing a range of drugs and over-the-counter preparations, including 'Advil' and infant formula milk.
The company said it will defend the proceedings.
© Irish Independent See also:
A MOTHER who will give birth to her ninth child in the next month is locked up in jail today for failing to pay an outstanding debt and litter fine.
Heavily pregnant Jean Kelly, of Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick went into Limerick Prison this week just after she returned from a sun holiday in Spain.
Ms Kelly, who is from the southside of Limerick city, is due to be released from the prison this weekend after she completes a five day prison sentence for an offence committed under the Litter Pollution Act last year.
It is believed she committed the offence in January 2006.
She also appeared before Limerick District Court after she failed to repay a credit union loan.
Littering is a public offence and automatically receives an on the spot fine of €125. This can be increased to a penalty of €3,000.
Ms Kelly presented herself at the gates of Limerick Prison on Monday after a committal warrant was issued in recent weeks.
When gardai contacted Ms Kelly in order to execute the warrant, she told them she would serve the jail sentence as it would eliminate her debt.
She has spent the entire week in prison with the 20 other female inmates of the jail. She is not eligible for early release as she must serve the full sentence for an unpaid debt.
Fianna Fail candidate for Limerick East, Councillor Noreen Ryan said the jailing of the mother of eight was inappropriate.
"The whole case brings to public attention the way the courts deal with the matter of financial debt and fines. The question I ask is it right to imprison a pregnant woman and take her way from her young family," asked Mrs Ryan.
Ms Ryan has called for "a Naomi Campbell New York style community service approach" to be taken here in such cases.
(Irish independent April 2007)
GALWAY may soon feel the environmental effects of its 'buy one, get one free' water bottle project as residents begin to dump empty five-litre containers on the side of the road in a bid to escape bin charges.
Bulky empty five litre and two litre containers, which have been left around the city in an attempt by residents to alleviate recycling bins already bulging at the seams, are adding to the growing litter crisis in the city, according to some local councillors.
"People are losing respect for the council as this crisis goes on," said independent councillor Catherine Connolly.
"They are cross about the size of these containers and may be inclined to dump them because the pay-by-weight system makes them pay to recycle them."
The Galway litter situation has spiralled out of control in recent years with over 563 cases of illegal dumping documented in 2006 and 257 cases documented for the first three months of this year.
"People are burning and dumping things," said Cllr Connolly.
Patricia McDonagh(Irish Independent)
E.U incredulity at environmental disasters in Ireland.
THE Government is due to be roundly condemned by the European Parliament for its failures to provide clean water and modern waste management and for deciding to locate the new M3 motorway so close to Tara. The damning report on the country’s failures in relation to water, waste, pollution and transport will be discussed by MEPs next month and follows a three-day, fact-finding visit by MEPs to Ireland last month.
THE Government is due to be roundly condemned by the European Parliament for its failures to provide clean water and modern waste management and for deciding to locate the new M3 motorway so close to Tara. The damning report on the country’s failures in relation to water, waste, pollution and transport will be discussed by MEPs next month and follows a three-day, fact-finding visit by MEPs to Ireland last month. It expresses incredulity at many of the situations they found on foot of complaints from Irish citizens and says that the European Commission should investigate many of the failures. The report is particularly critical of the decision to take the second best and cheaper option in siting the new M3 close to Tara. The first option would have meant larger compensation to landowners and residents. “The delegation is perplexed by the choice of route and by the damage done to the integrity of the many sites in the Tara area and the Gabhra Valley, and why one of the largest M3 intersections precisely at this most vulnerable location in terms of Ireland’s national heritage, which destroys forever the intact archaeological landscape of the area,” the report says. On the broader picture the delegation said they could not understand why the Irish authorities put so much emphasis on road infrastructure and so little on more sustainable rail network for passengers and freight. They were equally perplexed about the water situation, including the outbreak of cryptosporidium in Galway earlier in the year. “For a country which manifestly has no shortage of water, and is blessed with many beautiful rivers and lakes, it is nothing less than a remarkable anomaly and a great shame that Ireland should have such difficulty in ensuring the provision of ‘wholesome and clean’ water to so much of its population,” it says. The group of MEPs, that precluded Irish members, also gave the thumbs down to the planned incinerator at Poolbeg and questioned if its siting close to residential areas was in compliance with EC directives. They also asked why it is being built at a time when incineration is being abandoned by many places in Europe, or at least relegated to the last possible waste disposal option. Farmer Dan Brennan, whose cattle have been shrinking since 1990, was heavily supported in his claims that the CRH brick factory nearby is responsible for his herd’s serious disorder. They suggested some further proofs, including post-mortem examinations, to help Mr Brennan bring a claim to the Irish courts. They also called for a more objective scientific assessment of the brick factory and the chemicals used in its production process. If there was proof that the EU’s air pollution law was breached, they said the European Commission should take Ireland to the Court of Justice. Any EU citizen can appeal to the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee if they believe EU legislation is being breached. The committee has no powers other than to highlight issues.
Ann Cahill© Irish Examiner 14.09.07
THE Government will be forced to clean up abandoned landfill sites around the country that are leaking into the groundwater and polluting it or face massive fines following a ruling from the European Court of Justice.(2007)
EU members are supposed to ensure that dangerous substances do not leak from waste and contaminate the groundwater from which most of the country’s drinking water comes.
But the court found that the Ballymurtagh landfill site in Co Wicklow has been leaching into the groundwater and the river Avoca nearby. The poisonous substances include mercury and cadmium from old batteries, which is cancer-causing This would not have happened had the site been properly lined but the authorities decided against this at the time on the basis that the river was already poisoned by heavy metals from a nearby disused mine.
The case has wider implications however, according to Labour MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, because it proves the Government has not been complying with the Groundwater Directive.
“Should the commission in the future be presented with evidence of pollution of groundwater by landfills, it has the right to ask the court to impose substantial fines against Ireland, possibly amounting to tens of millions of euro,” he said.
The case should also force the Environmental Protection Agency to review the way it does its job as the court found it had breached the directive by granting a licence for the Ballymurtagh landfill in April 2001 without carrying out a full examination of the local environment first.
“The EPA must now review its procedures for licensing landfills on foot of this ruling,” said Mr De Rossa. The authorities were also found guilty of allowing septic tanks attached to commercial ventures to pollute groundwater in Wexford and endanger the lakes of Killarney. However the court said they were not shown enough evidence by the European Commission that septic tanks were contaminating drinking water around the country.
The commission says it may return to the court with fresh evidence such as the cryptosporium found in Galway during the summer and EPA reports that 57% of groundwater samples were contaminated with faecal coliforms.
Mr De Rossa said the minister for the environment could not take any comfort from the fact that the court turned down the commission’s claim that Ireland had not done enough to prevent groundwater pollution from commercial septic tanks.
“It should be bourne in mind that Ireland had not taken all possible steps to prevent such pollution. There is still clearly a need for the minister for environment to take further action on groundwater pollution from septic tanks,” he said.
The Department of the Environment, who has been fighting this case for the past five years, said they were studying the court decision.
(c) Irish Examiner 26.10.07