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EPA Continued Essential Environmental Enforcement During Covid-19 Pandemic.

EPA continued to provide essential environmental enforcement activities during the Covid-19 pandemic using innovative approaches.

  • The EPA employed a range of tools to assess compliance at licensed sites during 2020 and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, including the innovative use of Remote Compliance Assessments.
  • Odour complaints about licensed facilities rose dramatically in 2020, peaking in April. Overall, there was a 92% increase in complaints received by the EPA.
  • The EPA continued to carry out inspections focusing on sites causing odour nuisance and on other sites where environmental incidents and emergencies occurred.
  • The top 5 most visited sites in 2020 were Tipperary Co-operative Creamery Limited (19), Arrow Group (20), Merck Millipore Limited (21), Green Circular Economy Unlimited Company (24) and Limerick Gasworks (30).
  • Twelve sites were identified as National Priority Sites in 2020, an increase from the eleven sites in 2019. Five of the 2019 sites were again designated a National Priority Site in 2020. Three sites (Arrow Group, Arran Chemical Company Limited and Tipperary Co-op Creamery) were a National Priority Site throughout 2020.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its annual summary report on the enforcement activities carried out in 2020, along with the list of sites which were designated as a National Priority Site during the year.

The report shows that, despite the significant challenges and impact of Covid-19 during 2020, the EPA continued to carry out the enforcement of industrial and waste licences at over 830 individual installations throughout Ireland.

Mr Tom Ryan, Director, EPA Office of Environmental Enforcement, said:

“The EPA continued to provide an essential public service throughout the pandemic carrying out just under 1,100 inspections. With complaints about local licensed facilities almost doubling, the role of the EPA in enforcing industrial and waste licenced activities became even more important and we continued to investigate and respond to complaints as they arose. Odour nuisance was a key issue and 13 per cent of all inspections in 2020 were to investigate odour complaints from the public.”

The report published today highlights the main issues at licensed sites during 2020 and outlines what actions the EPA took to enforce environmental conditions at these sites.

During 2020, the EPA published quarterly updates on its enforcement activities to keep the public informed of the work of the EPA. The main findings of the 2020 report were:

  • 1,089 inspections were carried out by the EPA of which over 200 were remote compliance assessments. 14 per cent of these inspections were to sites on the National Priority Site List.
  • The top 5 most visited sites in 2020 were Tipperary Co-operative Creamery Limited (19), Arrow Group (20), Merck Millipore Limited (21), Green Circular Economy Unlimited Company (24) and Limerick Gasworks (30). The majority of inspections on these sites were to investigate odour issues.
  • Complaints to the EPA about licenced sites increased by 92 per cent and peaked in April when 187 complaints were received. The EPA received more than 100 complaints in relation to Arrow Group, Gas Networks Ireland, Tipperary Co-op Creamery and Merck Millipore Ltd.

The EPA also published the latest National Priority Sites List for 2020. The number of National Priority Sites in 2020 was 12, up slightly when compared with 2019 (11). The EPA will continue to focus its resources where they are most needed and to drive compliance at all problematic sites.

Commenting on the publication of the latest National Priority Sites List, Mr. Darragh Page, EPA Programme Manager, said:

“Sites with significant non-compliances with their licence conditions and regular incidents and complaints are placed on the National Priority Sites List. The continued poor compliance status and presence of the Arrow Group and Arran Chemical Company Limited on the National Priority Sites List is of serious concern to the EPA and they are both the subject of ongoing enforcement action to resolve the environmental issues and to bring them into compliance.”

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