February 14th, 2018
The Irish agri-food sector remains a major polluter, the latest Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) quarterly worst offender’s list shows.
The National Priority Sites List, published earlier this month, lists eight Irish industrial facilities that have had major environmental regulatory compliance issues over the preceding months.
These sites are earmarked by the EPA for stringent monitoring and enforcement going forward. Those named-and-shamed include multinational petroleum giant, Shell, and Irish Cement.
Maintaining the trend from previous lists, the agri-food sector is well represented – half of the listed offenders fall under this category.
They are Nutricia Infant Nutrition, Co Cork, Arrow Group, Co Kildare, Green Pasture Meat Processors, Co Longford, and Rosderra Irish Meats Group, Co Offaly.
Rosderra Irish Meats
Rosderra Irish Meats have been producing Irish pork and bacon products for the Irish and international markets since 2008.
On their website, Rosderra emphasise their “commitment to sustainability” and outline a number of cleantech projects underway at their Co. Offaly abattoir, including heat recovery and energy efficient lighting. They state that their operations are compliant with regulatory authorities – including the EPA.
In a statement to The Green News, the EPA said that the primary non-compliance issue at the facility was the emission of wastewater with excessive pollutant concentrations. Additionally, the EPA has received a high volume of public complaints regarding odour and noise from the abattoir.
The company and their subsidiary, Rosderra Farms, has previously been prosecuted by the EPA for non-compliance on a number of occasions – and hit with fines in the order of tens of thousands over the past decade.
Rosderra is also an Origin Green member. In 2014, then Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, attended Rosderra’s Origin Green certification launch at the very facility for which the company is now receiving their EPA citation.
Rosderra was contacted by The Green News but did not provide a statement at the time of publication.
Other Agri-food Groups
Green Pasture Meat Processors in Drumlish, Co Longford – another pig meat processor – has been cited by the EPA for “poor site management” leading to “a very poor level of compliance”.
Arrow Group (trading as Queally Group) is a giant of the Irish agri-food sector. According to the website of its subsidiary, Dawn International Ltd, it is Ireland’s largest privately owned agribusiness group, with a significant international presence.
The company’s food processing facility in Naas, Co Kildare, has appeared on the worst offenders list for complaints and non-compliance due to noise and odour from the site. An EPA case against the company, in relation to odour, is currently before the courts.
Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition, a subsidiary of Danone, is another market leader. Their facility outside Macroom, Co Cork – where the company manufactures baby formula – has been cited for noncompliance relating to odour, and a case against them on that matter is currently before the courts.
The Green News contacted all the above companies but did not receive any statements at the time of publication.
The EPA told The Green News that sites which do not address their issues in a “timely fashion” will face further enforcement action including “prosecution, and ultimately may face suspension or revocation of the licence”.
More State Action Required
Overall, however, environmental NGOs argue that there isn’t enough action from a State level to address issues around the ecological footprint of the agri-food sector.
They argue that the message conveyed in Food Wise 2025, the government’s ten-year plan for the sector, simply pays lip service to environmental sustainability and is focused on economic growth.
Referring to the policy in a 2016 report, the EPA stated: “Achieving growth in primary production and productivity without damaging the environment, upon which it depends, is a significant challenge.
“Moreover, there are current environmental challenges arising from agricultural activities that need to be addressed,” the report continues.
By Lorraine Guerin
Lorraine is a freelance writer on agroecology, sustainable forestry and the impact of policy on the environment. She is currently studying for an MSc in Environmental Management & Policy, specialising in agri-environmental policy in the Irish context.