Irish Cement apologises for 'dust emissions' from Limerick plant

COMPANY HAS MADE ARRANGEMENTS FOR CAR WASHES AND CLEANING PROPERTIES

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Irish Cement apologises for 'blow-out' at Limerick plant

Irish Cement plant, Mungret Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

IRISH Cement has issued a public apology to its neighbours following a number of recent dust emissions in the vicinity of the Mungret factory.

The apology comes after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that samples of dust deposited on cars and homes in the Mungret and Raheen area “contained Irish Cement plant material along with ambient dusts due to the extended dry weather”.

Since the end of March, the EPA, Limerick City and County Council and the HSE — who issued a joint statement this Friday — have received “a significant number” of complaints about these deposits.

Complainants believed that the source of the dust was likely to be the nearby Irish Cement plant, the joint statement said.

However, up until this Friday, the company had denied liability for the dust emissons in the area.

In a fresh statement to the media, a spokesperson said: “Irish Cement notes the contents of the statement published today by the EPA, attributing responsibility to Irish Cement for recent dust emissions in the vicinity of the Mungret factory.

“The company apologises for any inconvenience caused to its neighbours and commits to continuing to work with all the agencies and local communities to rectifying the situation. Irish Cement met with the EPA this week, and has also taken a number of proactive steps locally. Company personnel are visiting neighbours and have made arrangements for car washes and cleaning of affected properties.”

Since the first complaints were made, EPA personnel have been investigating the issue and have now convened an interagency group with the council and the HSE, to ensure “integrated oversight of the investigation”.

The EPA has commenced a formal compliance investigation into the management of dust at the factory.

“As part of this investigation, the company is conducting a detailed inspection of the material and product handling infrastructure and processes over the entire site to identify any potential defects,” the joint statement said.

It said that the factory is to conclude the review in a month, and will report back “regularly” to the EPA. “Any defects or failures are to be rectified immediately on discovery.”

It added: “Health advice based on sampling results to date and surveillance of healthcare usage confirms that exposure to the dust may cause respiratory irritation but does not pose a serious health risk in the short term.  In relation to possible health implications, HSE Mid-West liaised with general practitioners and the local hospital emergency department.  To date, no unusual patterns of ill health have been identified.  HSE Mid-West will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks.”

The EPA and the council are setting up a network of dust monitoring stations in four locations in the city. These will provide information on the levels of dust, which will be examined against air quality standards. This will support ongoing health risk assessment by the HSE, the three bodies stated.

The EPA stated that it encourages the public to contact the agency in the event of experiencing dust or other EPA-licensed facilities, via its website or its 24-hour call service, at 053-916 0600.