Dublin Port congratulated for running a tight ship

While ports across Europe are receiving a slating for allowing illegal waste shipments to slip through the net Ireland's busiest harbour has shone out as a notable exception that has turned the tide on waste.

Last week Impel, a network of environmental regulators from all over Europe, released a worrying report highlighting the fact that almost half the spot checks they have made on cargoes of waste due to be shipped overseas have uncovered illegalities (see related story).

Many turned out to be hazardous wastes bound for developing countries, a practice banned under the UN Basel convention on hazardous waste trade.

But Ireland, one of the nine maritime countries targeted in Impel's October blitz, has been keen to show that it has stood out from the pack, with not a single legal irregularity found by officers searching waste shipments at Dublin Port.

Those keen to deny Ireland its moment of glory might point to the fact that its ports are more traditionally seen as a gateway to the Americas than as an obvious stop-off on the way to the poorly-regulated dumps and breaking yards of the Far East and Africa.

But there is no disputing that Dublin's completely clean score sheet is an impressive achievement when compared with those of its European neighbours and is down to more than just the luck of the Irish.

Environment Minister Dick Roche praised the ongoing enforcement efforts of Dublin City Council, for the remarkable results.

The Minister said: "The results showed that all of the waste shipments checked at Dublin port were legal in the week in question compared with a figure of 48% of illegal shipments detected in ports in the eight other participating European countries," said Environment Minister Dick Roche.

"This is a truly remarkable situation and a complete reversal from the situation found in 2004 when almost all shipments inspected at Dublin port were found to be defective or indeed illegal."

The minister said that Ireland is now benefiting from a very hands on approach to waste enforcement and a better understanding of the international waste shipments rules.

"We have come full circle on this and from a position where there was limited resources and little enforcement we are benefiting from increased staffing, better training of staff and dedicated enforcement projects and a better response from the waste industry, shippers and brokers."

During the clamp down seaports in Germany, England, France, Ireland, Poland, Latvia, Slovenia, Sweden and the Netherlands were targeted.

In the seventeen seaports, a total of 3,000 documents were checked while 258 cargo-holds were physically inspected, 140 of which were waste shipments. 68 of these turned out to be illegal.

The illegal shipments included Swedish cable waste bound for China and discarded refrigerator compressors containing CFCs bound for Pakistan.

The violations were detected primarily in France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

In accordance with international agreements, the illegal waste shipments will be sent back to the country of origin.

"We too often get bad press for failures in the system and particularly in cases where waste is intercepted and sent back to Ireland for infractions of the international waste laws," said Roche.

"But on this occasion I am extending my congratulations to the Dublin City Council waste enforcement unit for their continuing vigilance in this matter."

By Sam Bond



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