THE recycling plant that has been on fire since Saturday is owned by a company that has been prosecuted four times in the past decade – including one fine of €780,000 – for persistent breaches of environmental laws.
Dublin Fire Brigade is continuing to fight the blaze at the Oxigen facility in Ballymount as both gardai and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prepare to investigate the cause of the five-day blaze.
The Herald revealed yesterday that Oxigen Environmental could face a €140,000 bill from Dublin Fire Brigade as well as a possible fine by the EPA .
In the past 10 years the company has appeared before the courts on four occasions, resulting in total fines and costs of more than €810,000.
Last February, it was fined over a breach of regulations that occurred at its Marywell depot – the scene of the current blaze.
On that occasion, the firm was found to have transferred waste to an unsuitable location and was fined €2,500 with additional costs of €9,500.
More seriously, in 2012, Oxigen Environmental and Cavan County Council were found guilty in the Circuit Court of "failing to ensure that odours did not give rise to a nuisance at Corranure Landfill, Cootehill Road, Cavan, or in the immediate area of the landfill".
There were 30 counts on the indictment, and both parties pleaded guilty to sample counts following an EPA investigation.
Oxigen was fined €10,000 a week for the 78 weeks it breached the law from October 1, 2007 to February 14, 2009, totalling €780,000.
The county council was fined €260,000 with the final cumulative figure in excess of €1m, with costs included.
Two other breaches, in 2011 and 2004, were for offences at the company's Robinhood Industrial Estate, which is less than 2km from the Marywell plant.
Charges on that occasion included accepting more waste than was permitted at the site and processing waste outside the permitted building.
It was also found guilty of sending waste to other facilities without the EPA's consent, failing to maintain a written record of all waste loads being accepted at the facility, and failing to store all waste for disposal in suitably covered and enclosed containers within the waste processing buildings.
The company was fined €12,000 and €9,225, including costs, for those breaches.
Oxigen did not respond when approached for comment by the Herald last night.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Dublin Fire Brigade said it was possible the fire would be put out by today.
"We're hopeful it will be extinguished before the night's out, but again we don't know because it depends on various things," she added. "We will be there until we know it has been fully extinguished."
Fears remain for the future of the 75 employees at the plant, but there was better news for An Post customers, with normal service resuming this morning.
The firm's parcel delivery facility, located next to the Oxigen plant, was yesterday forced to close as a precaution.