Covanta’s day in court

By Paul Carton

Photo: Paul Sherwood.


Dublin District Court Judge has fined the incinerator operators Covanta, €1,000 for being in breach of their licence with the EPA.

Covanta, who are in a public-private partnership with DCC, known as the Dublin Waste to Energy (DWTE) and who pledged to be able to power 80,000 homes with energy-converted electricity, pleaded guilty for not ensuring temperatures in the combustion chamber stayed above safe limits in early June last year and not notifying the EPA in the specified time limit.

The offence, the court heard from the Judge, carries a fine of €4,000 per offence. Senior Counsel Shane Murphy for DWTE told the Judge that it was a ‘glitch’ which caused the breach and it happened in the plant’s first week of operation.

The Judge took a lenient approach on the basis that Covanta had pleaded guilty. It was in the very early stages of operation and said that it was a “major factor” that there were no other prosecutions “coming down the line.” The judge imposed the fine for not informing the EPA in the specified time limit and applied the probation act to the other two charges they pleaded guilty to.

However, Joe McCarthy who represents An Taisce in the DCC’s Environment Strategic Policy Committee, said the incident file held at EPA offices show a lot more incidents just this one and is curious why they have not been brought forward. “I’m not surprised the DWTE pleaded guilty, they were caught red-handed, they are not running the plant at high temperatures like they should and sometimes this is up to three or four hours,” Joe told NewsFour.

Responding to the court’s decision a spokesperson for Covanta told NewsFour “Overall, the new facility is performing extremely well and operating significantly below required licence limits. Continuous emissions monitoring data and four sets of different stack results have been performed by independent third party testing since the facility began generating electricity at the end of August 2017. The results show emission limit values at only 2%-3% of the allowable amount.”

There is still the criminal investigation case to come where workers were hospitalised when one of the gaskets broke last year. This case is being handled by the Health and Safety authority. NewsFour will keep you posted.