Limerick residents have no faith in factory self-monitoring

LOCAL residents associations say they are less than impressed with the “slow, low impact reactions” of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in their approach to dealing with claims of dust blowouts from the Irish Cement factory in Castlemungret.

Limerick Against Pollution (LAP) , made up of representatives of Sli Na Manach, Gouldavoher, Inis Lua, The Grange estates and Educate Together feel that it has fallen to the ordinary citizen to do most of the work on this issue. They are now calling on the EPA to be “less hands off” and send someone in to investigate what caused the recent dust blowouts.

“As it stands the EPA has asked Irish Cement Ltd to look into it and let them know. We don’t have any faith in self-regulation. The EPA was only alerted to this issue because of residents contacting them,” said LAP spokesman Tim Hourigan.

“It was only after Sli na Manach residents collected samples and gave them to the EPA for analysis that the factory admitted there was dust,” he claimed.

Sli na Manach Residents Association say they have now written to the EPA to demand a proper inspection to verify what happened. While three more residents associations (Gouldavoher, Inis Lua and The Grange) have indicated that they will be writing to the EPA to make the same request.

“The locals have no faith in Irish Cement to be open and accountable, and expect the EPA to be a lot more proactive in dealing with the problems at the plant. After all, the fallout from the factory literally drops on our families. Our faith in Irish Cement to regulate themselves has been carried off in the same wind that brought the dust,” Mr Hourigan told the Limerick Post.

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In response, a spokeswoman for the EPA commented, “To date we have not received the correspondence from the residents association. Should we receive this, we will respond directly with the residents association.”

Meanwhile, Irish Cement stated that it takes any Compliance Investigation undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency very seriously.

“Irish Cement at all times cooperates fully with any such investigation and as is required by its Industrial Emission Licence, is bound by any findings or sanctions that may arise,” a spokesman explained.

“In relation to recent dust complaints made by neighbours directly to our Mungret cement factory or via the EPA, Irish Cement reiterates that there has been no so called ‘blowout’ at the factory, however the company acknowledges the EPA’s initial comments in their recent statement which ‘indicate that the dust deposits contained Irish Cement plant material along with ambient dusts due to the extended dry weather’.”

by Alan Jacques

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