EPA Reports Dramatic Fall in the Number of Landfills

The EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) has published its ‘Focus on Landfilling in Ireland’ report. The report examines the standards of operation and management at landfills in Ireland and charts the progress made since the EPA began licensing this sector 15 years ago.

The report charts the fall in the number of municipal waste landfills over the last 15 years, falling from almost 100 landfills in 1995 to 30 facilities today, all of which are licenced to operate by the EPA. During this time, there has been a dramatic improvement in the performance indicators for landfills.

“Regulation of the waste sector has been a driver for improved standards and better environmental outcomes. Landfills are subject to a rigorous enforcement regime, without which we would have more pollution,” comments Dara Lynott, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement.

The EPA report also sets out the challenge facing Ireland to divert enough biodegradable waste from landfills to meet increasing targets set by Europe. Additional waste infrastructure will be needed to treat this kind of waste and more markets are needed for the resulting compost.

Dara Lynott, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement.

Dara Lynott adds: “Over a million tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste went to landfill in 2008 and this figure has to drop by 750,000 in 2016 to meet EU targets.”

The report highlights the compliance and enforcement issues that remain with this sector in particular the fact that 71% of all complaints against licensed facilities related to odour nuisance.

In response to these compliance issues the EPA reports shows:

* 15 landfill operators were prosecuted between 2001 and 2009. Fines and costs totalled Eur261,188.

* 434 audits and inspections of landfills were undertaken by EPA inspectors in 2008/2009 in addition to almost 200 monitoring visits to sample surface water, groundwater, leachate and landfill gas.

* 207 Notices of Non-Compliance were issued to landfills in 2008/2009.

The EPA has identified compliance priorities for the landfill sector that will be the focus of its enforcement effort.

Kieran O’ Brien, programme manager in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, says: “Future EPA enforcement effort will be targeted at compliance priorities to ensure that Ireland fully complies with EU obligations under the landfill directive and achieves successful outcomes for our environment.”

The compliance priorities include:

* Diversion of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) away from landfill;

* Management of landfill gas and odour;

* Financial provision for environmental liabilities;

* Dealing with legacy landfills.

The report Focus on Landfilling in Ireland is available on the EPA website at www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/waste/stats/.

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