I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 146 together.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s study ‘ Dioxin Levels in the Irish Environment: Ninth Assessment (Summer 2011) ’ is a follow-up survey to eight earlier studies carried out between 1995 and 2009. These studies, based on levels of dioxins found in cows’ milk, have shown that concentrations of dioxins and other pollutants remain at a consistently low level in the Irish environment. The report is available to download from the EPA’s website www.epa.ie .
The levels of dioxins found in the 2011 surveys are well below the EU limit for dioxins in milk and milk products and the results are also in line with earlier similar EPA surveys. In addition, all dioxin levels recorded in the 2011 survey compare favourably with those taken from a random selection of similar studies in EU and other countries. Furthermore , the dioxin levels were in line with a 2010 Food Safety Authority of Ireland breast milk study which confirmed low levels of exposure to the Irish population. The 2011 report indicated that the dominant sources of dioxin emissions in Ireland are from non-industrial activities , which in relation to waste would comprise the open burning of waste , also known as backyard burning. Considerable efforts have been made in recent times to address the issue .
In general terms, any burning of waste that gives rise to pollution is in breach of both Waste Management and Air Pollution legislation. Section 32 of the Waste Management Act 1996 sets out the general duty of a holder of waste not to hold, transport, recover or dispose of waste “in a manner that causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution.”
The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 make it an offence to dispose of waste by uncontrolled burning and various actions are prohibited by the regulations, including burning within the curtilage of a dwelling. Local authorities are empowered to take legal action against offenders and fines of up to €3,000 are applicable for summary convictions of offences.