Council turns up the heat on ‘smoky’ coal users and sellers

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Limerick City and County Council has issued a warning to people who burn and sell smoky coal.

RENEGADE fuel dealers who continue to sell ‘smoky’ coal and those who burn it in Limerick city and its environs are being targeted by the local authority.

Limerick City and County Council and the Health Service Executive is concerned that bituminous (‘smoky’) coal continues to be sold to, and burnt by, a small minority of householders .

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In a joint statement, both bodies warned that ‘smoky’ coal is completely unsuitable for use in urban environments “as it generates significant levels of harmful smog, which can have serious consequences for the very young, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions. It can cause damage to flora and fauna as well as property.”

The fuel is banned and Limerick City and County Council says it continues to enforce this ban by means of prosecutions and the issuing of “spot fines” of up to €1,000.

The sale, marketing and distribution of smoky coal has been illegal in Limerick city and surrounding area for more than 20 years and its burning was completely outlawed three years ago.

Bans are in place in all urban areas with populations of more than 15,000 people and it is expected that a nationwide ban will be introduced later this year.

“The medical and environmental justifications are compelling,” the statement said.

“From a population health perspective, diseases of the respiratory system are one of the leading causes of death in the Mid-West, accounting for 1,894 deaths from 2013 to 2017.

“There is clear evidence that the ‘smoky’ coal bans have improved air quality and consequently respiratory health. Irish studies have shown that deaths due to respiratory disease decreased following the introductions of the bans.

“Householders should note that there is absolutely no economic or thermal advantage to be gained from burning ‘smoky’ coal. Anyone who burns such coal is contributing to the creation of an environmental and health hazard for themselves and their neighbours.”

And people who burn the coal are putting themselves at risk also because, the local authority says, some of the harmful emissions from an open ‘smoky’ coal fire remain within the house.

However, there are some suppliers who continue, knowingly, to deliver and sell ‘smoky’ coal, despite their knowledge of the law and despite being subject to repeated enforcement action.

“Those who profit from the sale of ‘smoky’ coal and those who burn it should consider the harm that they cause to the environment and the medical distress to others.

“Air pollution is the single biggest environmental health risk in the European Union.”

Customers can check that the coal they are buying is ‘low smoke’ as the bag has to be marked with the name and address of the person who packed the bag and carry the words “APPROVED FUEL – Contents comply with the Air Pollution Act Regulations”.

For further information, check ‘Air Quality’ on Limerick.ie