EPA launches map-based website to enhance public access to information on pollutants

Date released: Oct 12 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency today launched a new pollutant release and transfer register (PRTR) website http://prtr.epa.ie/.  This map-based website, like Google Maps, allows the public to access environmental information about emissions from more than 300 industrial facilities across the country.  The register contains environmental data that has been gathered by the EPA from industry and local authorities.  Environmental information about other European Countries is also accessible through this website.

The pollutant register website allows members of the public to search and track up to 91 specific substances or pollutants emitted to air, water and land by industrial and public facilities, above certain reporting thresholds.  Data is updated twice-yearly and is currently available for the years 2007-2009.  Visitors to the site can access information about waste transferred off-site over the same time period. The register also contains information on diffuse emissions to air and water from scattered sources such as road transport and agriculture.

Commenting on the register, Dara Lynott, Acting Director General, EPA, said:

“Providing access to data about the environment contributes to people’s knowledge about the quality of their environment, and increases awareness about potential threats to the environment.  The EPA plays an important role as a data provider and is committed to providing tools like the pollutant release and transfer register to make the data we gather as accessible as possible and encourage public participation in environmental decision-making.”

The key features of the new website are:

  • Environmental Information can be searched using high resolution maps, by industrial sector, facility name, pollutant, river basin district, or location
  • National trends are accessible for emissions and waste transfers for certain substances and waste type, over a 3 year period
  • The Top Emitters and Waste transfers are displayed as well as the sectoral contributions to the national reported total
  • The site contains links to published research on diffuse emissions, produced under the EPA’s Science Technology Research and Innovation for the Environment (STRIVE) programme as well as to other European Research/Regulatory bodies
  • Clear instructions are provided for using the search functionality offered by this innovative site.

The key findings of the 2007-2009 register for Ireland shows:

  • In excess of 300 facilities in Ireland are covered by E-PRTR reporting. These include facilities from power generation, wastewater treatment, chemicals, intensive livestock, minerals & cement.  Also included are large companies in areas such food & drink and waste sites.
  • Releases to air were dominated by facilities from the energy, minerals & cement and chemical sectors.
  • Overall, the data shows a continued downward trend since 2007, in emissions of key pollutants to air; carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, methane and non-methane volatile organic carbons.
  • The energy sector contributed 79% of Ireland’s 2009 E-PRTR Carbon Dioxide releases while the remaining 21% was from the cement, minerals and chemicals sectors.  Releases of carbon dioxide from the cement and minerals sectors have decreased by 36.7% since 2008.
  • Nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide emission decreased by 39%and 37% respectively, since 2008.
  • Public wastewater treatment plants which receive wastewater from a variety of sources were, as expected, the top contributors to the total amount of nutrients i.e. total nitrogen and total phosphorus, released to waters in 2009. This sector emitted 96% and 92% respectively, of Ireland’s E-PRTR emissions to waters for total nitrogen and total phosphorus.
  • The tonnage of hazardous waste transferred off-site from E-PRTR facilities decreased by 62% since 2008, at 187,557 tonnes.  This is most likely a result of the economic downturn.
  • The waste transfer stations and chemical sector contributed 52% and 36% respectively, of hazardous waste transfers.
  • The tonnage of non-hazardous waste from all sectors decreased, by 2.4%, to 3.58Mtonnes.

Further information on the website is available at aerreturns@epa.ie

Notes to Editors:

  1. ‘Public facilities’ are urban waste water treatment facilities managed by local authorities.
  2. The http://prtr.epa.ie/ website will help the public to access environmental information and in doing so meet obligations set out in regulation and the UN Protocol to facilitate public participation in environmental decision-making.
  3. The European Communities (European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register) Regulation 2007, S.I. No. 123 of 2007) signed into Irish Law, on 22 March 2007, the E-PRTR Regulation, (EC) No 166/2006 concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register. The new website anticipates new regulations from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The new regulations will formally establish the Irish Pollutant Release and Transfer Register.
    The E-PRTR Regulation has a number of principal objectives, as set out in Article 1 of the Regulation:
    Article 1
    Subject matter
    This Regulation establishes an integrated pollutant release and transfer register at Community level in the form of a publicly accessible electronic database and lays down rules for its functioning, in order to implement the UNECE Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers and facilitate public participation in environmental decision-making, as well as contributing to the prevention and reduction of pollution of the environment.
    Annex 1 of the E-PRTR Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 lists the activities which are subject to reporting under E-PRTR.
    Annex 2 of the E-PRTR Regulation lists the 91 substances that are subject to reporting under E-PRTR, above specified release thresholds.
  4. The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) is the new Europe-wide register that provides easily accessible key environmental data from industrial facilities in European Union Member States and in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland. It replaces and improves upon the previous European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER).  The data available in the Irish register is also available in the E-PRTR. Information is updated in 31st March and 30th September.