The Shannon Estuary is home to the two biggest individual producers of carbon dioxide emissions in the country with the Moneypoint power station and Aughinish Alumina between them responsible for a total of 5.2m tonnes of CO2 in 2013.
However, the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that the total volume of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides released by these plants was down compared to the previous year.
The ESB-owned Moneypoint power plant continues to be the single biggest carbon dioxide producer, emitting 3.9m tonnes of in 2013, down from 4.6m tonnes the previous year.
The plant also produced 4,891 tonnes of nitrogen oxides and 7,163 tonnes of sulphur oxides.
Aughinish Alumina was the second largest producer of CO2 emissions, with just over 1.3m tonnes in 2013.
The alumina processing plant near Askeaton was also the second highest producer of sulphur oxides (1,535 tonnes) and the third highest producer of nitrogen oxides (1,416 tonnes). In all cases, these figures were lower than the 2012 figures.
Particulate matter releases were reported by the two facilities. According to the EPA, total releases increased by 5% to 402,815 kg in 2013 which it attributed to variations in production at Aughinish Alumina. Releases at ESB Moneypoint (213,180 kg) reduced by 11% between 2012 and 2013.
The figures are contained in a report on Ireland’s Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) for large industrial facilities.
The report details the releases of specific pollutants above certain thresholds - to air, water, wastewater and off-site transfers of wastes - from facilities covered by the register.
Also included is the Irish Cement plant in Mungret which sent 3,270 tonnes of hazardous waste out of the country for disposal in 2013.
The report also outlines the total discharges to water from wastewater treatment plants and other similar facilities. It shows that 178.6 tonnes of nitrogen (down 10% on 2012) and 38 tonnes of phosphorus (up 22%) were released into the Shannon Estuary from Limerick city’s wastewater treatment plants - primarily at Bunlicky on the Dock Road.
The reports also shows that the Gortadroma landfill site, which has been closed since last year, produced a total of 3,422 tonnes of methane - another greenhouse gas - in 2013, an increase of almost 600 tonnes on the previous year.
Overall, releases of carbon dioxide (CO2) decreased by 9% compared to 2012 which the EPA says is largely attributed to more renewables and less carbon-intensive fuels being used to generate electricity.
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