Dust emissions from Irish Cement's Mungret plant have caused concern locally
THE environmental regulator has formally found Irish Cement to be “in non-compliance” over dust emissions from its Mungret plant.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened a formal probe into the firm after identifying a number of other issues at its vast plant on the city’s edge.
It comes after residents in neighbouring estates woke up on consecutive weekends recently to find a thick dust coating their cars and windows.
Irish Cement apologised recently for any inconvenience caused after the EPA said 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”.
Local Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler said of this latest EPA report: “It’s a clear indication of the breaches we have been speaking about for the last weeks.”
As well as confirming it has opened a “compliance investigation” into Irish Cement, the EPA has also made observations in relation to a number of other areas of the plant.
These related to “shift reports, bi-weekly fugitive reports, maintenance reports and haulier movements,” the regulator stated in the report which has been obtained by the Limerick Chronicle. Irish Cement say this information was not made available to the regulator at the time of the inspection, and it is given as standard procedure.
The company has been ordered to respond to these matters in a set timeframe.
“Individually these issues are small, but collectively they are a cause for concern in regard of Irish Cement’s attention to detail and the quality of its work,” Cllr Butler claimed.
The councillor also welcomed the comprehensiveness of the EPA’s testing.
The report also re-affirmed that samples taken from Irish Cement’s site in Mungret were a “good match” to what was found on resident’s cars.
This came after the samples were taken to the Centre for Microscopy and Analysis at Trinity College in Dublin.
Asked for a response to the latest findings, Irish Cement said in a statement: “EPA site visit reports are published after each visit by EPA enforcement inspectors to licensees sites.
“They are a formal mechanism of communicating any findings, actions required or non-compliances to the licensees and they set out the timelines for follow-up actions and reporting.
“They are now routinely published on the EPA website and are available to all interested parties.
“Irish Cement at all times cooperates fully with any such investigations and as is required by its Industrial Emission Licence is bound by any findings or sanctions that may arise.”
This development comes amid concern over Irish Cement’s €10m plans for the Mungret facility, with the company planning to phase out the use of petroleum coke at its plant and instead use solid recovered waste and used tyres.
The proposals have sparked a backlash in the local area, with residents concerned about the impact on the environment and public health of burning these materials.
Bosses in Mungret have also said that it is crucial the reforms are waved through for the company to remain competitive in Limerick.