Wednesday 29 November 2006

Waste: EPA illegal dumping hotline to expand following flood of reports from public

THE Environmental Protection Agency is to expand the number of offences covered by its ‘Dump the Dumpers’ hotline after it was inundated by more than 1,000 calls since it was set up in June.

When the campaign was launched, it was only as a pilot scheme aimed at identifying large-scale dumping sites that may still be operational or any remaining abandoned illegal dumps.

However, given the number of calls the confidential hotline has received the scheme has been extended to February 29, 2008.

The EPA will also evaluate the feasibility of extending the service to cover reporting of other environmental incidents.

Members of the public have inundated the 24-hour callsave telephone number, 1850 365 121, with reports of illegal dumping over the last five months.

According to the EPA, the hotline serves two main purposes:

Members of the public are able to report, on a confidential basis if necessary, suspicions about illegal dumping both past and present. That information is then followed up and checked by the Office of Environmental Enforcement and Local Authorities through the Enforcement Network. This allows the enforcement authorities to gather, on an on-going basis, information about illegal waste activity.

Serious incidents of illegal dumping, such as the contents of a 40-foot trailer being dumped in a field or the dumping of diesel laundering waste are reported to the Gardaí, the EPA and the relevant local authority, so that immediate action can be taken where appropriate.

“The system provides a means by which complaints and incidents about illegal waste activity can be monitored, managed and reported on in a comprehensive manner,” a spokesman said.

“The system complements enhanced waste enforcement efforts currently underway in Ireland and demonstrates to the general public and other stakeholders that Irish authorities are effectively responding to complaints about illegal waste activities.”

In a study carried out last year, the EPA identified 25 illegal dumping sites in operation. It said they are now all being closed down or going through the courts.

At the launch of the ‘Dump the Dumpers’ campaign, EPA director general Dr Mary Kelly described illegal fly-tipping as “the scourge of Ireland’s environment.”

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