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Maire and Padraig O Grady's original well and pumphouse adjacent to their home at Ballyglassane, Crusheen. They are claiming that they are suffering from the effects of pollution due to a nearby oil depot. Photograph by John Kelly

EPA says oil depot’s activities are not its business

THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed it doesn’t have a direct enforcement role concerning an installation or activity that is not subject to a licence issued by the agency.

Responding to Clare Champion queries, the EPA recalled it received a complaint raising planning and environmental concerns about Burrenside Oil in September 2020.

The EPA acknowledged receipt of the complaint and informed the complainant that Clare County Council has responsibility for dealing with the planning and environmental protection concerns described in the correspondence.

The EPA also informed the complainant that it had reviewed the documents submitted and noted that the substantive complaint was one of alleged unauthorised development.

It stated that it does not have a role in enforcing application of the planning and development legislation or the enforcement of planning permission conditions.

After obtaining permission for GDPR compliance purposes, the EPA referred the complaint to Clare County Council for their investigation and action as appropriate in relation to the environmental pollution concern aspects of the complaint.

“The EPA’s role regarding such matters is a supervisory one in relation to a local authority’s performance of its statutory duties with regards to environmental protection.

“The EPA does not have a direct enforcement role where the installation or activity is not one subject to regulation under a licence issued by the EPA,” said an EPA spokeswoman.

Padraig O’Grady claimed the EPA have failed in their duty to do any sort of investigation whatsoever.

Mr O’Grady recalled all the agency stated was that the council are investigating this matter.

On Friday, February 26, 2021, Maire O’Grady, Crusheen, contacted the Public Health Office in Ennis and spoke to a health office to inform the HSE petroleum hydrocarbons were found in her drinking water and asking for assistance in figuring out how to interpret the results.

A principal environmental health officer replied to Maire on March 1, 2021 with the following: “You should contact Irish Water or Clare County Council in relation to this matter as they are the statutory authority for water supplies.

“This office does not have any legal powers in relation to the issue you have previously described.”

A HSE spokesman told the Clare Champion when a complaint is submitted to the Environmental Health Service in relation to a report of contaminated water, the service will advise the complainant on the best course of action and what authority they need to contact in relation to the matter.

“If it’s a public water supply, the statutory authority is Irish Water; if it’s a private supply or a private group water supply, the local authority has some statutory responsibilities in such circumstances.

“The Environmental Health service is often consulted by Irish Water and the local authority for advice when parametric values are exceeded,” the spokesman outlined.

Sadlier Lynch Pierse Solicitors, Gort, raised a number of issues with the Revenue Commissioners in a letter dated May 26, 2021 concerning Burrenside Oil.

In response to this letter, the Revenue Commissioners stated due to “taxpayer confidentiality”, it is precluded from giving them any information concerning the tax or licensing affairs of Burrenside Oil or indeed, any third party, and would not be in a position to provide information about the outcome of any enquiries in this matter.

Padraig O’Grady claimed the Revenue Commissioners gave a fuel trading licence to the company without any investigation.

“An Access to Information Request was sent to Revenue but they refused to give any details and then replied back through email saying this was a private matter between themselves and Burrenside Oil.

“It has come to the O’Gradys attention through the AIE request that the revenue had been in contact with Burrenside oil urging them to get a DSL licence.

“This shows that they were fully aware that Burrenside Oil did not have a DSL while they were trading and they still issued them with a trading licence after.”

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