EPA Publishes National Hazardous Waste Management Plan

Date released: Sep 15 2008

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published a National Hazardous Waste Management Plan for the period 2008-2012 for the prevention, reduction and management of hazardous waste in Ireland.


In 2006 there were 284,000 tonnes of hazardous waste generated, and half of this waste was exported for treatment abroad. The largest quantity of hazardous waste is generated by Irish industry and includes such materials as industrial solvents, waste oils, industrial sludges and chemical wastes. Households, small businesses, farms and the healthcare and construction sectors also generate large quantities of hazardous waste including batteries, electrical equipment, healthcare risk waste, solvent based paint, varnish waste, sheep dip and fluorescent lamps.


Dr Mary Kelly, EPA Director General, said:

“The generation of hazardous waste is intricately linked to the modern lifestyles we are now living.  It is also a by-product of the mix of industries that Ireland has depended on and promoted in recent years.  The purpose of the Plan is to ensure that this waste is minimised and dealt with correctly."

 

“Ireland must find new ways to become self sufficient in dealing with our hazardous waste.  Whilst there has been some improvement in Ireland’s infrastructure, there is still a deficit and this Plan recommends alternative methods for the reduction, collection and management of this waste within Ireland.”

The Plan makes 29 recommendations that, when implemented, will:

  • reduce the generation of hazardous waste by demonstrating available alternatives to Irish industry and society;
  • ensure that all hazardous waste is collected and is managed appropriately;
  • increase Ireland’s self-sufficiency in hazardous waste management and reduce exports; and
  • deal with the legacy and contamination of past practices involving hazardous materials.

The recommendations deal with:

  • prevention of hazardous waste;
  • collection of hazardous waste and the enforcement of hazardous waste regulations;
  • infrastructure and moving towards self-sufficiency in hazardous waste management;
  • legacy issues such as contaminated soil and old landfill site management;
  • north-south potential for all-island solutions; and
  • implementation.

The EPA will take the lead in implementing a large number of the Plan’s recommendations as well as monitoring the implementation of the overall plan. A number of other public bodies are identified in the Plan for the implementation of these recommendations, including the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and local authorities.


Two periods of public consultation were held during the Plan’s preparation and over 90 submissions were made. Industry representatives, public bodies and the public were invited to give their opinion on hazardous waste management, and a number of proposals were incorporated into the final document.

Dr. Gerry Byrne, Programme Manager, EPA, said:

“We now have a focused and up to date plan for improving how we think about and manage hazardous waste in Ireland. The EPA and public bodies generally must take responsibility for ensuring it is implemented in full. Irish industry and society must play their part by responding to the initiatives and using the services that will be put in place for their benefit.”

Download the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan from the EPA website.

ENDS

Further information: Niamh Leahy, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)

Editor’s note:

The following is a summary of the recommendations.

Prevention
A prevention programme to reduce the gross generation of hazardous waste in certain priority industrial sectors and in households will be undertaken by the EPA under the National Waste Prevention Programme. (see www.nwpp.ie)

Collection
A comprehensive and accessible network of local drop-off facilities for householders and small businesses is recommended to tackle the problem of ‘unreported’ hazardous waste. Certain commercial sectors are also highlighted for priority attention in this regard, principally garages and farms, the source of relatively large amounts of ‘unreported’ hazardous waste. The EPA will commence projects to develop solutions with these sectors, in consultation with stakeholders, and to focus enforcement efforts.

Self-sufficiency
A policy of moving towards self-sufficiency is recommended. Of the 48% of hazardous waste exported in 2006, a significant proportion could be dealt with in Ireland at existing authorised facilities and in cement kilns. One cement kiln operator has indicated their intention to seek authorisation to burn waste, including hazardous waste. If Ireland were to become fully self-sufficient, hazardous waste landfill and incineration (or alternatives) would be required. It is noted that while a hazardous waste incinerator is licensed to operate in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, there are no equivalent proposals on hand for hazardous waste landfill or for technologies that can provide a realistic alternative to the incineration of a wide range of hazardous wastes that are currently exported for incineration.

Legacy issues
Over 90% of contaminated soil removed from contaminated sites in 2006 was exported for treatment, representing a loss of a valuable resource. More treatment of contaminated soil in Ireland is recommended to ensure that treated soil is available here for engineering purposes.
The management of old waste disposal sites, including those that to a significant extent involved the disposal of hazardous waste, are to be managed according to an existing code of practice drawn up by the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement.
It is recommended in the Plan that the scale and extent of contamination of port and harbour residues be identified and subjected to planned decontamination or other management approaches.

North-south potential solutions

With the easing of restrictions in United Kingdom policy for the movement of hazardous waste for disposal between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an all-island market for hazardous waste disposal is now possible. An all-island market for hazardous waste recovery has existed for some time. The Plan recommends that proposals for hazardous waste disposal infrastructure, including landfills and other large-scale infrastructure such as incinerators and alternative treatment installations, should take all-island considerations into account for capacity planning purposes.

Implementation
Each of 29 recommendations in the Plan has a timeline and responsible body identified. The principal implementing bodies will be the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and local authorities. Reports on the implementation of the Plan will be prepared by the EPA, with input from National Waste Prevention Committee. Private investment will be necessary to provide domestic hazardous waste facilities.


Strategic environmental assessment

The Plan has undergone a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in accordance with the SEA Directive and Irish regulations. An SEA Statement that describes how environmental considerations were taken into account in the Plan’s preparation is also published today.

The National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2008-2012 is prepared and published in accordance with Section 26 of the Waste Management Acts, 1996 to 2008, and will replace the first National Hazardous Waste Management Plan, which was published by the EPA in 2001.