The biggest fine for environmental damage ever handed down by an Irish court has not been paid and the company responsible is now under final notice to comply.
Waste company Jenzsoph Ltd was slapped with a record €20m penalty for environmental pollution after being convicted in the Dublin Circuit Court in October of mismanaging the Kerdiffstown landfill site in Co Kildare, which is now being cleaned up at enormous expense to the taxpayer.
Two convictions were recorded, attracting fines of €10m each, relating to offences between 2003 and 2008, when huge mounds of waste were allowed accumulate untreated at the site, and nearby residents had to live with disgusting odours.
In a separate incident, a disastrous fire broke out there in 2011, burning for weeks and cloaking the local area in heavy smoke and nauseating smells.
Local campaigners had welcomed the fines and expressed the hope that the money would contribute to the clean-up, but the penalties were not paid.
Jenzsoph still technically owns the 30-hectare site although Kildare County Council has been given powers under the Waste Management Acts to take over control of it.
Two other companies involved in the operation of the site are no longer functioning. One was wound up, and the other has been in receivership since 2010.
It is not clear what action can be taken if the final notice is ignored.
Jenzsoph last filed annual accounts in 2009, but the company has not been struck off the register, and it retains its directors.
So far, €11.78m of public money has been spent on securing the site and preventing it causing further pollution, and the Department of the Environment said “significant further funding will be required over the coming years”.
Kildare County Council recently completed recruitment of a team of specialists for the Kerdiffstown Landfill Remediation Project, which includes a senior scientist seconded from the Environmental Protection Agency, a senior engineer, and administrative staff.
In the next few weeks, the council will also source contractors to demolish derelict buildings which must be cleared before remediation works can begin.
However, preparations for remediation are complex as the council has to get agreement on an end use for the site, work out a plan for achieving that end use, have that plan subjected to environmental impact assessment and secure approval from both the EPA and An Bord Pleanála before beginning work.
Council officials said the public would be kept informed of developments.
“In order to identify a preferred end-use option, a public consultation will be undertaken in early 2016, based on an end-use options document that will be published by Kildare County Council in due course.”
It is estimated the site works could begin this year, and take five to seven years to complete, with a potential total cost exceeding €30m.
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