The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was informed, via its emergency line, in the early hours of Saturday, 25 January of a serious fire outbreak at the Oxigen Environmental Waste Facility at Ballymount, Dublin 12. EPA officials were quickly on site and continued to attend the site each day, working in co-ordination with the Gardaí and Dublin Fire Brigade in managing the incident. While the smell of smoke from the fire was reported across Dublin immediately following the outbreak, the results from the EPA’s national ambient air quality monitoring network show that there was no breach of air quality standards at any of the monitoring stations in the network for the duration of the fire. This includes stations at Ballyfermot, Tallaght, Blanchardstown, Rathmines and in the city centre. It is thought that the strong winds assisted in the dispersion of the plume. Elevated pollution levels were recorded by the closest monitor, located at Ballyfermot Library, but these were still within prescribed pollutant limit values for the protection of human health set out in national and EU air quality legislation.
The EPA issued the following health related advice to local residents:
- Anyone in the path of the plume was advised to keep windows and doors closed.
- Adults and children with heart or lung problems should reduce strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.
- Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors.
The EPA’s air quality health index was used to give advice to the public and was updated regularly via the twitter account @EPAAirQuality. The incident notification on the EPA’s website was also regularly updated - www.epa.ie/newsandevents/incidents/. EPA inspectors undertook additional air monitoring over the duration of the fire. While it is too early at this stage to provide a fully detailed air quality report, these results are being compiled and a report on the monitoring undertaken will be prepared by the EPA.