IRELAND'S largest waste management firm, Greyhound Recycling and Recovery, and two of its directors have been hit with financial penalties for failing to prevent emissions and odours coming from their main storage facility in Dublin.
An environmental watchdog sniffed out a serious smell problem after nosing around their storage site at Crag Avenue, in Clondalkin, a court heard.
The company, which took over Dublin City Council’s domestic bin collection service in January 2012, and two of its directors, brothers Michael and Brian Buckley, were prosecuted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for breaking waste management regulations.
The agency brought the case after two of its inspectors carried out assessments at Greyhound's waste storage facility at Crag Avenue, in February, March and May last year.
The court heard that waste was not properly stored and the smell was “resulting in significance interference with the amenity and environment in the area”.
The company and the Buckley brothers faced four charges for failing adhere to waste management conditions of their licence, between August 2011 and May 2012.
While the company entered a guilty plea, Brian Buckley and his brother Michael Buckley, from Terenure, in Dublin, contested their charges but were found guilty today by Judge John O'Neill at Dublin District Court.
He said that it was hard to conceive that the two directors were not aware of the problem and he could not ignore the company's previous convictions for waste management offences.
Defence counsel Louis McEntaggart asked the judge to note that Greyhound has international operations and the recording of convictions against the two directors could affect their ability to travel to the United States where they also have an office.
He asked the judge to take into account that no wildlife was harmed and there was no permanent impairment to the environment as a result of the emissions. He also submitted that it happened in an industrial estate not in a residential area.
Prosecuting counsel Dean Kelly told the court that eight people in the locality had complained to Greyhound and “had rung the phone off the hook” and the judge also said that there was evidence from them that “it was a waste of time making complaints”.
He imposed fines totalling €10,000 on the company which also has to pay the EPA's legal costs.
Judge O'Neill also noted that the waste firm has been carrying out works at their Crag Avenue facility, at a cost of about €250,000, to deal with the problems identified by the EPA.
He said that two directors would be spared court convictions and would get the Probation Act if they each give €5,000 to two charities, Laura Linn and the Jack and Jill Foundation. He warned that this must be done by December 17 adding “I will keep my options open if the money is not paid.”
Following the hearing today, the company released a statement saying it accepted the court's decision and “is committed to the continuous improvement of its procedures and all issues highlighted in the case have already been, or are in the process of, being addressed.”
During the hearing, EPA inspector Lisa Mahler told Judge O'Neill that she visited Greyhound's site on two occasions. On February 16, 2012, she carried out an odour assessment and found at Waste Recovery Building 1 that two doors which should have been closed when they were not in use, were open.
There were “pools of black liquid in the building, this was quite odorous and the source the odour”.
She also said there was waste residue in the yard which was also the source of odour.
In building 2 she noticed that it was misty inside, “condensation was dripping from the ceiling, this space was quite odorous”.
On March 29, 2012, following complaints over the previous four days, she carried out another odour inspection. Downwind of the site stench was detected which was “resulting in significance interference with the amenity and environment in the area”.
She went into the facility and found a door to a waste storage area which was supposed to have been kept closed had been open for an hour-and-a-half. She saw five trailer loads of baled waste stored outside which should have been kept indoors.
It smelt and could have led to “run-off” from the waste into the ground.
In another building, there were also about 350 bales of waste awaiting processing and more waste in the yard as well as pools of black liquid. A skip in the area was also giving out a strong smell, the court heard.
One of the buildings was supposed to house mixed dry recyclables such as paper, cardboard and metal, but “solid recovered fuel” which results from the recycling process was found there.
An other inspector told the court that about a 1000 bales of waste had been kept in an area where they should not have been stored.