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Irish Examiner - 16/08/2005
Watchdog to publish pollution reports

The environmental watchdog’s new policy of publishing reports of serious pollution will help end a culture of secrecy, it was claimed today.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has pledged to publish the information on its website, following a public outcry about the hidden leaking of 250 tonnes of caustic soda into Cork Harbour last month.

Green Party TD Dan Boyle said it was a welcome move which would stop the public being kept out of the loop on environmental polluters.

“There’s a culture of secrecy that will not do anything in terms of looking after the interests of workers or people living near these installations, and the protection of the general environment. There’s a whole series of people who need to know who haven’t been told,” he said.

The EPA previously only published pollution incidents if there was a serious impact on the environment.

But following the leaking of the caustic soda at the ADM Ringaskiddy plant, the agency came under further pressure after it emerged that waste from a pharmaceutical plant in Cork had been discharged into Cork harbour over a period eight months instead of being incinerated.

Mr Boyle organised a public meeting to protest the non-reporting of the incidents to the public.

“It’s an acknowledgement that the pressure brought to bear has had some effect. It’s a welcome start but there’s a need for a radical changes in the EPA.”

He said he believed the EPA was trying to pre-empt his party’s campaign to change its structure.

“There’s a problem at the heart of the EPA in the sense that it’s far too industry influenced. There has never been a director of the EPA who’s had any background in environmental campaigning. There needs to be a better balance in how the EPA is managed and what it’s underlying philosophy is.”

The new EPA reporting system, which came into effect yesterday, contained details of two new pollution incidents.

In Cork, the Gradoge River in Mitchelstown was polluted last Saturday by a discharge near the Dairygold milk processing factory.

The EPA report said the initial indications were that drainage work carried out on land owned by Dairygold damaged several drains which run into the river.

“Containment arrangements were put in place on Saturday 13 August which have prevented further release to the river. The material in now being pumped to the Dairygold waste water treatment plant.”

The Smithkline Beecham factory in Carrigaline, Cork spilt 400 litres of caustic solution during a loading operation last Saturday.

According to the EPA report, the caustic solution was contained in a site retention pond and was not discharged into the Cork estuary.

Both incidents will be investigated by EPA inspectors.

     

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