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Oxigen waste company fined 18,000 euro over Dublin recycling depot blaze

Published 26/08/2015

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze in 2014 at the Oxigen plant in Ballymount, Dublin
Firefighters at the scene of the blaze in 2014 at the Oxigen plant in Ballymount, Dublin

A leading waste company was fined 18,000 euro following a massive blaze at a recycling depot that burned for five days.

Oxigen was prosecuted over its handling of cardboard, paper and other recyclables at its facility on the Merrywell industrial estate in Ballymount, Dublin, in the run-up to the blaze in January 2014.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed the penalty in a report on air quality in Ireland which also showed the fire was the only incident it classed as serious last year.

But its report found: "Overall the results of the air quality monitoring indicated that the air quality impact of the fire was localised and transient, and there was no significant potential for any long-term health impacts as a result of this incident."

The EPA said the action was taken against the company for holding waste in a manner likely to endanger human health or harm the environment by risk of fire, surface water contamination and nuisance through odour prior to the fire.

Last year Oxigen also faced a 9,000 euro bill following complaints about foul odours from its Coes Road plant in Louth.

The company was one of three prosecuted by the EPA last year over bad smells from factories or facilities, with the others being Irish Country Meats and Dublin Products.

The EPA said it recorded 113 breaches of rules related to emissions in 2014.

They involved 33 different sites but more than half related to five companies - the incinerator operated by Indaver Ireland at Duleek, Co Meath; Bord Na Mona's briquette factory in Littleton, Co Tipperary; C & F Automotive in Mullingar; Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Ireland in Kilrush, Co Clare; and the Novartis operation at Ringaskiddy in Cork.

The EPA said the issues at the incinerator involved high levels of carbon monoxide being released, one of which was caused by a power failure, but none posed a threat to the environment.

Elsewhere, 1,058 air-related complaints were made by members of the public last year against 82 different sites.

Foul smells made up about three quarters of these, with 14% related to noise and air quality 11%.

The EPA said five sites accounted for the vast majority of noise complaints - the waste transfer site Nurendale at Rathdrinagh, Co Meath, run by Panda; the Cooley Distillery in Louth; Rosderra Irish Meats Group in Edenderry, Co Offaly; the Arrabawn Co-operative Society Limited in Nenagh, Co Tipperary; and Arrow Group in Waterford.

Earlier this year Oxigen had a record fine of 740,000 euro reduced on appeal to 50,000 euro for persistent odour problems from a landfill at Corranure in Co Cavan. The dump was closed to waste in 2010.

Ian Marnane, of the EPA and report author, said: "It is more than just fines.

"It would be nice to see bigger fines. But we look at it from other points of view as well - reputational issues and how they will affect future decisions on licences."

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