Environment agency targets 3 agri-food firms in drive to improve compliance

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new enforcement initiative to drive further environmental compliance at industrial and waste facilities today, June 11.

Licensed facilities with the poorest compliance status have been earmarked as ‘National Priority Sites‘ for enforcement, according to the agency, which was using a recently-developed identification system.

Under the new system, points are allocated to each site based on compliance data including complaints, incidents and non-compliances over the previous six months.

Sites that go over a certain threshold are designated National Priority Sites and are then targeted by the EPA for further enforcement activity.

Currently, five industrial sites – including three agri-food firms – have been listed as priority sites. These represent less than 1% of all EPA-licenced sites, but account for 8% of site inspections carried out by the EPA in 2017 so far.

In addition, three of the priority sites account for over 50% of all complaints received by the agency so far this year.

Speaking about the new system, Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, stated: “A small number of sites have significant compliance issues and we consider them to be National Priority Sites for enforcement.

The EPA will escalate enforcement action against companies, and their directors, if necessary, if compliance does not improve.

Today also saw the release of the EPA Industrial and Waste Licence Enforcement Report 2016, which provides details of compliance levels and enforcement activities across the 800 licensed facilities for last year.

Some of the main findings included: over 1,500 site inspections were completed, of which 95% were unannounced; €178,000 in fines and costs from 11 prosecutions finished in 2016 were paid; the top five most visited sites were (predictably) facilities in the waste sector; and more than 1,000 complaints were received by the agency about licensed facilities, of which 66% related to odour nuisance.

Perhaps most notably however, was the revelation that the highest level of non-compliance was in facilities in the food and drink sector.

Commenting on the findings, Mary Gurrie, Programme Manager for the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said: “The report shows that the EPA targets its enforcement efforts at the most non-compliant facilties.

It is not acceptable for licensed sites to cause nuisance or to cause an impact on the environment. These operators face further enforcement action.

The EPA has also issued a reminder to members of the public that they can now easily access enforcement information, such as site visit and monitoring reports, for licensed sites on the EPA website, as well as the new National Priority Site system and the 2016 report.

As of the end of June, the current National Priority Sites – which include three agri-food businesses – are:

Source: EPA