A LEADING West Cork food producer has been taken to task by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for breaching limits on discharges from its waste water treatment plant.
On foot of the breaches, the EPA issued Carbery with a number of non-compliance notices, most recently following an incident in March.
The Carbery plant is located in Ballineen, not far from the Bandon River.
According to EPA inspector John Doheny, an inspection of the riverbed on March 27 revealed it was “covered in fine solids” from the Carbery waste water treatment plant outfall to a point near Ballineen Bridge.
Following an EPA investigation, Carbery was found to be in non-compliance with its licence, and instructed to carry out specified corrective actions.
In June, water treatment specialists Acorn Water assessed samples at four locations downstream from Carbery and recorded an “unpolluted” status.
Mr Doheny said the results showed the discharge had “no lasting effect” on the river and that no further action was necessary.
The EPA has investigated a number of incidents in relation to the Bandon River in the vicinity of Carbery over the past five years, following notifications from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). These include:
nApril 2008: Discolouration in the river downstream of the Carbery waste water treatment plant outfall. The EPA instructed Carbery to investigate the matter, which showed suspended solids above the licensed emission limit value. “As corrective actions were put in place immediately... no further action was deemed necessary,” the EPA said.
nJuly 2011: The riverbed was covered in fine solids downstream of the waste water treatment plant outfall. There was a delay in forwarding the complaint to Carbery because the relevant inspector was on leave. An investigation found Carbery’s raw water intake experienced problems with cloudiness for a period on July 18 “which may have been connected to the complaint”, but “due to the time lag it was not possible for Carbery to carry out a more thorough investigation”. The EPA said no further action was necessary.
* August 19, 2011. Fish kill in the river in the vicinity of Carbery. The EPA said the investigation is continuing but, because of the passage of time, may prove inconclusive.
Carbery Group said it was made aware of the fish kill by IFI on August 18/19 and immediately informed the EPA and instigated “an extensive internal investigation of plant operations”, but found “no non-conformance issue which could have contributed to this incident”.
It said the company was “not in a position to comment any further” until the EPA and IFI conclude their own reports.
Mr Doheny, meanwhile, said the EPA has issued “a number of notifications of non-compliance over the past five years” to Carbery but that no legal action has been initiated.
Carbery confirmed four “minor non-conformances” over the past five years, and said all had been fully addressed.
The company’s licence is under review and Carbery, which has a workforce of approximately 400 and a turnover of €224 million, must submit relevant information to the EPA by October 1. Carbery said its licence was under review as part of a new EU water framework directive.
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