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EPA reveals Wicklow dump has worst complaint record

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

More than 500 complaints were made about foul smells from dumps and waste plants in 2013, watchdogs have revealed.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the tip with the worst record was Ballynagran in Co Wicklow which was hit with 140 complaints about its operations.

The inspectors said the vast majority of bad odours were likened to rotten eggs as gases escaped from dumps, while they also dealt with seven complaints about flies close to waste plants and 19 about noise.

Two thirds of the 547 complaints it received over the year related to just five waste disposal sites.

Apart from Ballynagran, the worst facilities named in the EPA report were Oxigen's Coes Road operation in Dundalk which had 81 complaints to its name, Thornton's recyling centre in Dunboyne, Co Meath which had 60 complaints, Nurendale, which owns Panda Waste, with 45 and a second Oxigen facility, Robinhood in Dublin, which faced 35 complaints.

Three fires were also reported to the EPA - two of which were found to have self-combusted after a build up of heat in piles of recycling.

Other findings from the report showed that less waste is being sent to landfill than ever before - down from 1 million tonnes in 2012 to 714,000 tonnes in 2013.

Caoimhin Nolan, EPA inspector, said with less waste going to landfills more needs to be done to ensure proper management of recycling centres, odour control and fire prevention.

"We think there is a need for something stronger than the guidance we have at present and we are working with fire officers," he said.

"It should be more tailored to the sector and would need to be more specific as to how stockpiles of materials can be managed."

The EPA revealed 220,000 tonnes of waste was handled at the Carranstown waste incinerator near Duleek, Co Meath and one complaint was made against it in 2013.

The agency said half of the legal actions it took were against waste facilities even though they only account for 15% of the licences it issues.

Gerard O'Leary, director of EPA's office of environmental enforcement, said: "There is a need for waste operators to improve environmental compliance by tackling priority areas such as odour management and waste handling. Residents living near waste facilities should not be subject to odour nuisance."

The EPA warned it has the power to prosecute the company directors of waste firms in breach of regulations and it took actions against them in two firms in 2013.