Eight companies have been placed on a watchlist by the environmental watchdog and could ultimately lose their licence if they continue to damage the environment.
Six of the sites account for more than half of all complaints received by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2017.
Four are from the agri-food sector.
Nutricia Infant Nutrition Ltd, Castleview, Macroom, Co Cork, is one of the companies that currently features on the National Priority Sites list.
In 2016, Nutricia was forced to pay fines and costs in excess of €14,000 for breaching conditions in relation to odours and emissions levels and also for failing to notify the EPA as soon as practicable after an incident with the potential for environmental contamination of surface water or groundwater.
Green Pasture Meat Processors Ltd in Drumlish, Co Longford, is also on the watchlist. In a report published this month, the EPA outlined multiple areas of non-compliance during an inspection, including an uncovered container of animal by-products and inadequate bunding of industrial containers.
Bunding is a retaining wall around storage for the purposes of containing any unintended escape of material where potentially polluting substances are handled.
Irish Cement in Limerick has returned to the watchlist on foot of further non-compliance. In December, an incident at the site of Irish Cement, Castlemungret, Co Limerick, caused the escape of “raw meal” (a mix of limestone, shale, and other raw materials), resulting in a dust release.
A number of complaints were received by the EPA from local residents relating to the dust on cars and property. The HSE advised that the dust could cause skin or eye irritation.
Shell E&P Ireland Co Mayo is also on the watchlist. In 2016 the company was forced to pay over €16,000 in fines and costs after a successful EPA prosecution. The company pleaded guilty to flaring of gas at a time when people might reasonably be expected to be sleeping.
Also on the watchlist are the Arrow Group in Kildare, the East Galway Residual Landfill site and two Offaly companies, Rosderra Irish Meats Group (Edenderry) and T&J Standish (Roscrea) Ltd.
Three Cork companies were among four to come off the previous watchlist, which is updated quarterly: Ashgrove Recycling; Carbery Food Ingredients Ltd; and Dairygold Co-Operative Society Limited (Mallow).
The EPA said Ashgrove, which operates a waste transfer station and recycling facility at Churchfield Industrial Estate in Cork city, has improved waste management at the site.
However, the EPA is taking a prosecution against the company in relation to licence breaches — the case is before the court.
In relation to Carbery, the EPA said Carbery Milk Products has undertaken the corrective actions required to improve the operation of a wastewater treatment plant.
In relation to Dairygold, the EPA said the company had undertaken works to prevent odour nuisance from the site.
A spokesperson for the EPA said it is “not acceptable for sites to cause nuisance or to impact on the environment” and that sites which do not address issues in a timely fashion could ultimately “face suspension or revocation of the licence”.
The aim of the National Priority Sites list is to drive compliance at facilities licensed by the EPA.
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