Plans to monitor air quality near Irish Cement welcomed

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A DECISION by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to install an air quality monitor near the Irish Cement plant in Castlemungret has been welcomed.

Since the end of March this year, the EPA has received a significant number of complaints about dust deposition from residents of the Mungret and Raheen areas of Limerick City. Complaints have also been received by Limerick City and County Council and the Health Service Executive (HSE) Mid-West.

The complaints have described thick dust deposited on cars, roofs and windows, solar panels and garden furniture. Complainants have all stated their belief that the source of the dust was likely to be the nearby Irish Cement plant, which operates under an EPA Licence.

The EPA and Limerick City and County Council are now establishing a network of dust monitoring units in four locations in Limerick City that will provide information on dust levels for assessment against air quality standards and will support ongoing health risk assessment by the HSE. The first of these units has been located in the Mungret/ Raheen area, and the remaining units should be in place by the end of this week.

Sinn Fein councillor for City West Malachy McCreesh is of the view that more monitors are needed but hailed the move as recognition by the EPA of the risks that the local community are potentially being exposed to by dust suspected of coming from Irish Cement.

“Tests carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency in April show that the dust which has carpeted local housing estates closely matches dust found at the Irish Cement plant. Locals have long believed that the dust carpeting their estates came from blowouts at the nearby Irish Cement plant. Disappointingly Irish Cement have not been admitting to these blow outs,” said Cllr McCreesh.

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The City West representative believes “this lack of transparency and engagement with local communities is to be regretted”.

“It says little for their competency to manage existing operations let alone their technical ability to manage the toxic waste incineration plant which they are planning to install. If they cannot be trusted now, then how can they be trusted to burn toxic waste without placing the health of local residents at risk.”

In a statement issued to the Limerick Post last week, Irish Cement noted the contents of the statement published 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 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,” the statement concluded.

by Alan Jacques

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