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Irish Times - 16-08-05
EPA to report details of major pollution spills

The Green Party has welcomed the pledge by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release details of serious pollution incidents as they happen.

The EPA has announced its website will carry details of any new incidents requiring investigation. The EPA previously only published pollution incidents if there was a serious impact on the environment.

A public outcry followed the revelation that 250 tonnes of caustic soda were leaked into Cork Harbour.

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

Green Party Cork South Central TD Dan Boyle described today's development as "a small but important step" that will help to achieve some public confidence in the work of the agency.

Mr Boyle had organised a public meeting to protest the non-reporting of the incidents to the public, and his party had called for wide-ranging reforms of the EPA.

"Vital changes remain to be made in the structure, the philosophy and the resources available to the EPA," he said.

"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 its 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

August 13th 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, Co 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.

© 2005


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