Sickening odours of vomit coming from a recycling plant resulted in a waste company being fined €12,000 for breaches of their licence and ordered to pay almost €10,000 in legal costs to the Environment Protection Agency.
The EPA brought the prosecution against Country Clean Recycling who pleaded guilty yesterday to six breaches at their plant at Churchfield industrial estate at John F Connolly Road in Cork between May and August last.
Judge Olann Kelleher said: “The complaints arose out of poor management. Odours would have been very unpleasant for people who live nearby and I have a duty to them.”
Louis McEntagart, senior counsel for Country Clean, said: “There has been significant infrastructural remediation of this site, €150,000 to date was spent to get this place in order.
Another €250,000 is going to be spent. And a further €700,000 is going to be spent on a further self-contained building which will facilitate the processing of this material.”
EPA solicitor Maeve Larkin said the problems were two-fold, infrastructural and a poor management of the issue.
A key source of the nuisance was the storing of food waste in open skips outside the building where all of the work was required under licence to be undertaken within the building at Churchfield.
She described monitoring of the Churchfield facility as “identified as a national priority site by the agency”.
EPA inspector Joe Hunter said he could not say if the odour from the site represented a health hazard but he said: “Residents were extremely stressed by the nuisance.”
He said one visit a year to a facility was usually sufficient but in the case of Churchfield the EPA inspectors had to visit seven times. The company was found to be non-compliant with their licence on six of the inspections.
“There was a massive shortfall in terms of infrastructure and serious management deficiencies. Food waste for recycling was outside in a skip giving off extremely sickening, noxious type of odours.
“Food waste was being tipped into a skip and it was on the floor. The reception area was very disorderly. The odour was similar to vomit.
“We found large stockpiles of odour-forming waste and rain water was leeching through the waste. There was very bad mismanagement. It was unacceptable. Outside the building should have been pristine. It was the very opposite of that,” Mr Hunter said.
Mr McEntagart said there had been huge and significant engagement between the parties and significant infrastructural remediation. He said food waste was not presently being taken in at the site.
In terms of accepting responsibility he said: “These people have put their money on the line and put their hands up straight away. They are getting this right.
“This utility is necessary in processing the city waste. Everyone acknowledges that this company is about ensuring this problem does not happen again.”