Senator John Whelan said he is astonished to learn that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not accountable to the Minister for the Environment, the Department of the Environment, Dail or Seanad.
“It is one thing to be independent; it is another entirely to be answerable to no one,” he said.
On the Enva facility in Portlaoise, Senator Whelen said he remained: “far from reassured by the EPA’s inaction and stance. I note in the EPA’s weekend statement it stresses that Enva ‘has been largely compliant with its licence and has had no major issues’.
“Yet the EPA put on their own public file on the 12/1/2009 a letter from their Senior Inspector of Environmental Enforcement that says the agency is ‘extremely concerned’ at the level of non-compliance at the facility, and then goes on to talk about failure to comply will leave the agency ‘no option but to consider legal action’. That does not sound like a minor issue or largely compliant’,” Senator Whelan said.
In reponse to claims by Senator Whelan that the EPA “colluded with a licenced company”, the Agency said it rejected such claims out of hand. It urged anyone with evidence of collusion to bring it to An Garda Síochána.
The Agency also rejected criticisms of the EPA’s approach to regulation made by the Senator.
“The EPA is responsible for the licensing and control of large scale waste and industrial activities to ensure that they do not endanger human health or harm the environment. All of the EPA’s records and correspondence with Licensees are placed on public file, including complaints, and the Licensee’s response to these complaints,” the EPA stated.
The Agency added that complaints to the EPA received the highest levels of attention and follow through.