Investigation into public complaints of dust nuisance in the Mungret and Raheen areas of Limerick City

Date released: Apr 28 2017

Joint Statement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Limerick City & County Council and Health Service Executive Mid-West 

1 Notification of dust deposition problem in residential areas of west Limerick City

Since the end of March 2017, the EPA has received a significant number of complaints about dust deposition from residents of the Mungret and Raheen areas of Limerick City. Complaints have also been received by Limerick City & County Council and the Health Service Executive (HSE) Mid-West. The complaints have described thick dust deposited on cars, roofs and windows, solar panels and garden furniture. Complainants have all stated their belief that the source of the dust was likely to be the nearby Irish Cement plant, which operates under an EPA Licence, P0029-03.

2 Investigation of the dust issue

  • Since the first complaints were made, EPA personnel have been investigating the issue and have now convened an inter-agency group involving Limerick City and County Council and the Health Service Executive(HSE)  to ensure  integrated oversight of the investigation
  • Samples of dust from cars belonging to a number of complainants have been analysed and compared to samples of materials from the Irish Cement facility. The results indicate that the dust deposits contained Irish cement plant material along with ambient dusts due to the extended dry weather.
  • The EPA and Limerick City & County Council have assessed the extent to which other potential sources of dust may exist in the area. To date, no such source has been identified as being a likely contributor to the issue.
  • The EPA has initiated a formal Compliance Investigation into the management and control of dust at the Irish Cement facility. As part of this investigation, the company is conducting a detailed inspection of the material and product handling infrastructure and processes over the entire site to identify any potential defects. Irish Cement are to conclude the review in a month and to report back regularly to the EPA as it progresses.  Any defects or failures are to be rectified immediately on discovery.
  • Irish Cement indicated that they had undertaken to respond to each complaint of dust they received and to seek to visit complainants where possible.

3 Public health

Health advice  based on sampling results to date and surveillance of healthcare usage confirms that exposure to the dust may cause respiratory irritation but does not  pose a serious health risk  in the short term. In relation to possible health implications, HSE Mid-West liaised with general practitioners and the local hospital emergency department. To date, no unusual patterns of ill health have been identified. HSE Mid-West will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks.

4 Additional monitoring

EPA and Limerick City & County Council are establishing a network of dust monitoring units in four locations in Limerick City that will provide information on dust levels for assessment against air quality standards and will support ongoing health risk assessment by the HSE. The first of these units has been located in the Mungret / Raheen area, and the remaining units should be in place by 5 May. Results obtained and an assessment of any potential for adverse health impacts will be published in subsequent updates in this series.

Limerick City & County Council intend that the monitoring network will be upgraded to provide online real-time air quality information for Limerick.

5 Conclusion

The EPA, in coordination with the other Agencies, will continue the investigation into the dust issue in west Limerick City. Where activities or emissions from EPA licenced sites are found to be responsible for or contributing to the issue, the EPA will instruct those licensees to take comprehensive corrective and preventative actions to prevent recurrence. Further enforcement action will be considered by the EPA in line with its enforcement policy.
The EPA welcomes and values information on potential environmental pollution or nuisance from the public. Members of the public are encouraged to contact the EPA in the event of experiencing dust or other nuisance from EPA licensed facilities, either through the EPA website or at 053-916 0600 (24 hours).