Remediation of landfill sites

At July 2020, the total number of identified landfill sites was 611

This included
– 117 sites licensed and regulated by the EPA since March 1997, and which it continues to monitor – consisting of 64 sites operated by local authorities and 53 operated privately.
– 494 unregulated sites registered by local authorities on a web-based register established by the EPA. Over 70% of the sites are former local authority-operated landfills. Around 21% were privately operated sites, while just over 8% were illegal dump sites

By the end of 2019, all 280 of the post-1977 local authority sites on the Section 22 register had been risk assessed and all but one had been categorised. Over half of the sites were assessed as either high risk or moderate risk.

Neither the EPA, nor the Department, nor the regional waste management planning offices were able to provide the examination team with complete information on the risk assessment status of the remaining 214 sites on the Section 22 register as at 31 December 2019.

In addition to unregulated sites identified by local authorities, illegal dumping of waste in 17 sites in Northern Ireland has been identified as having originated from south of the border. Remediation of the problem in 12 of the sites (accounting for an estimated 42% of the illegal waste) has been completed, through removal of the waste and restoration of the sites, at a cost to the Irish State of approximately €8 million. Negotiations with the Northern Ireland authorities on the method of remediation of the remaining five sites are ongoing.

Recommendation 1
The Department should conduct a comprehensive review of governance arrangements related to landfill sites to ensure that responsibilities for oversight and monitoring of landfill sites are clearly defined and assigned to ensure that appropriate steps to eliminate risks to the environment and communities are taken in a timely and efficient manner.

Recommendation 2
The Department should develop proposals for ensuring that all outstanding risk assessments are completed on a timely basis and that remediation plans are put in place as a matter of priority in respect of those landfill sites which are assessed as of either moderate or high risk.

Recommendation 3
The Department should develop medium term estimates of the future costs associated with landfill remediation.

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