July 13th, 2018
Ireland’s leading supplier of cement has pleaded guilty to charges related to the leakage of dust that impacted neighbouring residents near its facilities in Limerick.
The case was brought by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in relation to an incident at the company’s manufacturing facilities at Mungret on the outskirts of Limerick city where an amount of dust, a mix of limestone, shale and other raw materials, was released into the air.
Maeve Larkin, the prosecuting solicitor representing the environmental watchdog, said that the gritty material, which is not easily-washed off, caused damage to cars, garden furniture and solar panels in nearby housing estates, reported The Limerick Leader.
In court, Irish Cement claimed that it did whatever it could to make amends and provided car wash facilities for those impacted by the leakage.
The company told the court that it engaged in a number of other measures, such as removing acres of gravel and replacing it with grass or concrete. The company also carried out a “complete risk-assessment of the whole site”, reported The Limerick Leader.
Judge Marian O’Leary imposed the company with two fines of €1,250 in total, payable in two months.
Two other charges relating to similar breaches of the ‘fugitive dust’ emissions license were withdrawn. According to The Irish Times, the company argued in mitigation that dry and windy conditions played a part in “fugitive dust” emissions.
Residents expressed worries concerning their health. However, after consulting the Health Service Executive and local GPs no evidence was found that the dust had negatively impacted human health, reported The Irish Times.
According to The Irish Examiner, the company was convicted of two counts of breaching its Industrial Emissions License on dates in April and May last year. Irish Cement has also featured on the EPA’s quarterly worst offender’s list several times since it was launched last year.
The National Priority Sites List, lists 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.
The Limerick premises is one of four cement plants on the island of Ireland, three of which have moved from burning fossil fuel to burning industrial and toxic waste.
Earlier this year, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the company to replace fossil fuels use at its Limerick facility and one at Platin, Co Meath, despite concerns from locals and environmental groups.