EPA launches 24 hour phone service

Date released: Jun 28 2006

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today unveiled details of a confidential telephone service designed to encourage reporting of illegal dumping of waste or of abandoned illegal dumps. As part of a campaign entitled ‘Dump the Dumpers’ members of the public can report illegal dumping via a 24 hour lo-call telephone number 1850 365 121. Local authorities, the gardaí and the EPA will follow up on the information provided by the public, as appropriate.

The focus of the campaign will be to identify large scale dumping sites that may still be operational or any remaining abandoned illegal dumps. However, the new phone service will also allow members of the public to report larger fly-tipping activities such as sites used for habitual fly-tipping of waste, which have become a scourge of many rural communities in particular. The ‘Dump the Dumpers’ campaign is the latest initiative by the Environmental Enforcement Network which includes the EPA, all local authorities, the Gardaí and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The service compliments current local authority litter phone lines, which are being actively used by the public to report littering and small scale fly-tipping activities.

Launching the campaign, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr Dick Roche said,

"I regard this latest initiative as another vital piece of the jigsaw and perhaps a final turning point in the battle in dealing with illegal activities. I appeal to the public to avail of this new illegal dumping line particularly where they have worries that large scale dumping is about to take place or has just commenced. My hope is that this new information line service will further step up efforts to pursue those breaking the law and thereby lead to better protection of our environment".

Commenting, Dr Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA said,

"Substantial progress has been made in identifying and dealing with large scale illegal dumping in Ireland. However, challenges remain including tackling and stamping out fly-tipping of waste. We want to hear from the general public about sites that are used habitually for fly-tipping and illegal dumping of waste, including information on the dumpers themselves so that action can be taken against them. Illegal dumping of waste is an environmental crime and must be recognised as such and those responsible brought before the Courts."

Dr Matt Crowe, Programme Manager, EPA, said,

"At a time when so much community effort is devoted to environmental protection through tidy towns and various recycling activities, these efforts are being undermined by a small minority engaged in illegal activity. By lo-calling 1850 365 121, the public can fight back for the environment and the members of the environmental enforcement network would greatly welcome their assistance in doing so".

Garda Assistant Commissioner Martin Callinan, welcomed the establishment of the illegal dumping line and said,

‘Illegal dumping is a serious environmental crime and An Garda Síochána is committed to working with the EPA and local authorities to tackle the problem and bring those responsible for illegal dumping to justice. Information received through this new phone line should help the authorities get to grips with the problem’.

The ‘Dump the Dumpers’ campaign is being launched on a pilot basis for six months. It will be supported by a national and regional press and radio campaign over the coming weeks.

Ends

Further information: Niamh Leahy/Annette Cahalane,

EPA Media Relations Office, 053-9170770 (24 hours)


Notes to Editor:

Background to the establishment of the Illegal Dumping Line

In its report on the nature and extent of unauthorised waste activity, published in September, 2005, the Office of Environmental Enforcement identified the need for a special national phone line to allow members of the public to report information to the authorities about illegal dumping of waste.The concept has been developed during the past year in consultation with both the local authorities and An Garda Síochána through the Environmental Enforcement Network.It is being launched as a joint initiative of the EPA, the local authorities and An Garda Síochána.

The phone line will be made operational on Wednesday 28th June, 2006.  It will be run on a pilot basis for a period of six months and will be staffed round the clock.  It is being operated on behalf of the EPA by the Securway Group and Emergency Response Limited, based in Bunclody, Co. Wexford.  It is very difficult to predict the number and type of calls that the system will receive and it is necessary to operate the system for a period of time to establish this type of information.  During the course of the pilot the relative usefulness of the phone line will be evaluated and decisions made on its future.  A monitoring group has been established to oversee the implementation of the phone line with representation from the EPA, local authorities and An Garda Síochána, and this group will review options upon completion of the pilot.   

Purpose:

The phone line will serve two main purposes:

Members of the public will be able to report, on a confidential basis if necessary, suspicions about illegal dumping both past and present.This information will be followed up and checked by the enforcement authorities (local authorities, the Office of Environmental Enforcement and the Gardaí) through the Environmental Enforcement Network.This will allow the enforcement authorities to gather on an on-going basis, information about illegal waste activity and to act on this information.Experience in other countries (e.g. England and Scotland) suggests that a national phone-line for reporting illegal waste activity is and will continue to be a central plank in the fight against illegal waste activity.

Serious incidents of illegal dumping (e.g., the contents of a 40 foot trailer being dumped in a field or the dumping of diesel laundering waste) would be reported immediately to the Gardaí and the relevant local authority so thatactivities can be investigated as appropriate.The relaying of information to the Gardaí will be carefully controlled and monitored and only cases that are of significant scale and warrant immediate attention will be passed on to them.This will be achieved by putting a coordinator in place who will, among other things, double check and authorise any incidents that are to be reported to the Gardaí.

This phone line will compliment and build on existing local authority litter hotlines and will offer the public a single point of contact to report information about the more serious incidents of illegal dumping of waste, both past and present.Complaints about littering and small-scale fly-tipping should still be made to local authorities using their existing litter lines, although any information received though the Illegal Dumping Line will be passed on to the relevant local authority.

How the Illegal Dumping Line works:

The system will work as follows.Calls will be answered round the clock and seven days a week (i.e. callers will talk to a real person, not an answering machine).The operators will take down the details of the complaint and pass on the details to the coordinator.The coordinator will determine the relative importance of complaints received and the investigating authority to which complaints should be forwarded.During normal business hours (9.00 am to 5.00 pm) complaints and information of an urgent nature will be passed directly to either the relevant local authority, the Gardaí or the EPA.All other complaints will be forwarded to the local authority/EPA the following day.Outside normal business hours, details will be logged and forwarded to the local authority or the EPA the following working day (e.g. complaints and information of a non-urgent nature received over a week-end will be forwarded to the relevant authority the following Monday).Complaints of an urgent nature reported out of hours will be reported, through the coordinator, to the Gardaí, the relevant local authority or the EPA, depending on the nature of the complaint.

It will be possible to provide information on a confidential basis.However, callers will be encouraged to provide their contact details so that the authorities can, if necessary, follow-up with them in relation to the information supplied to assist them with any investigations.