EPA responsible for the protection of human health from emissions from licenced facilities

Date released: May 05 2005

  • All EU environmental legislation has as its basis the protection of human health as well as the protection of the wider environment
  • Good environmental management is, in fact, good business management.

 "All EU environmental legislation, on which national legislation is based, has as its basis the protection of human health as well as the protection of the wider environment, said Dr Padraic Larkin, EPA Director, Office of Licensing and Guidance at the annual Cré conference on composting in Ireland in Portlaoise today.

"It is absurd to think that EU and national law sets out to protect animals and plants from pollutants but somehow omits the protection of human beings from those same pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the protection of human health from adverse effects of emissions from facilities that come under our control," Dr Larkin said.

 "Where the EPA grants a licence for a waste facility we are satisfied that the facility will not endanger human health. Public health is a key concern of people who make submissions and objections to the EPA regarding licenses. The EPA’s first priority is to protect the environment for all, not to facilitate any sector or class of activity, such as composting, through special treatment regardless of how important that sector is to the national waste infrastructure."

Speaking about the recent Decision of the European Court of Justice about waste management in Ireland Dr Larkin said, "In almost every area Ireland lags behind the rest of Europe and the Decision of the European Court of Justice last month indicted the country for systematic failures over the years to deal with the waste issue in a structured way. That judgement related to the past and in recent years significant strides have been made to improve the situation. However there still remains a severe shortage of facilities for dealing with all aspects of waste and there is well-organised opposition to any new facilities being proposed. The country is in a transition phase between poorly managed facilities and modern facilities that do not impact negatively on the surroundings."

Dr Larkin finished with a challenge to industry to recognise their responsibility to the environment and "to realise that good environmental management is, in fact, good business management."