Irish EPA publishes National Hazardous Waste Management Plan

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week 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.

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