Friday 24 November 2006

Landfills among State's leading air polluters

A report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which names 183 Irish businesses as among the State's leading polluters, is to be published by the European Union today.

The EPA refused to name the Irish facilities in advance of their publication on the European Pollutant Emission Register, but The Irish Times has established that most landfills are included in the air pollutants section, as are a number of ESB installations, agricultural industries and many companies in the pharmaceutical sector.

It is understood that the closure of the IFI fertiliser plants in Cork and Wicklow had a very positive impact on the State's emissions as a whole.

Inclusion on the register does not mean that the companies or installations are in breach of their pollution control licences, but that they are among the largest sources of pollution in the State. The EU requires these to be monitored and the results published on the internet.

Ireland does not have serious outdoor air quality problems. This is largely due to the eradication of coal burning in many urban areas during the 1980s and the early 1990s.

The biggest threat now facing Ireland's air quality is emissions from road traffic. The EPA notes, however, that short-term traffic restrictions to improve air quality would be a major new challenge for local authorities.

The EPA's director of environmental enforcement, Dara Lynott, said the figures revealed a number of positive trends, with decreases in the emission of several pollutants from industrial and waste facilities.

He said the register indicates sulphur dioxide fell by 43 per cent between 2001 and 2004, nitrogen dioxide fell by 8 per cent and methane levels fell by 30 per cent.

While Ireland's national carbon dioxide emissions in 2004 were three per cent down on the 2001 levels, reaching 45,266 tonnes in 2004, carbon dioxide emissions from large/complex industry reporting for this register dropped by more than 14 per cent between 2001 and 2004. Carbon dioxide emissions from industries reporting to the register represent 45 per cent of the national total.

The report also noted a move towards more environmentally friendly energy.

The register will be available at

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