Stream of complaints to EPA about food firm

THE largest food manufacturing enterprise in County Kildare has been the subject of repeated complaints to the State’s environmental watchdog.

THE largest food manufacturing enterprise in County Kildare has been the subject of repeated complaints to the State’s environmental watchdog.

Reports about smell and noise have been made to the Environmental Protection Agency about the Arrow Group – based at the Maudlins Industrial Estate, off Dublin Road, Naas (pictured above). Arrow Group is an umbrella term for six companies set up at the industrial estate – Dawn Farm Foods, International Meat Ingredients, Simply Soups, Vitner Products, QK Meats and Pasta Concepts.

All of these are engaged in the production of processed foods – apart from QK Meats - and they operate independently of each other.

The companies are largely owned by the Queally family, who live in Naas and Waterford.

The Arrow Group is a significant employer with well in excess of 500 people on the payroll.

During 2010 – the most recent year for which detailed figures are publicly available – there were some 40 “environmental incidents”. These relate to exceeding limits for the discharge of foul sewer, storm water, emissions and noise. On one date in 2010 there were “noise exceedances” at all locations where noise sensitive measurements are recorded.

The company took steps to deal with numerous complaints.

EPA staff visited the site on two occasions during 2010 and found a total of 13 non-compliances (the company is obliged to operate within the terms of a licence granted by the agency).

A document filed by the company with the EPA said it is the policy of the Arrow Group to “protect the environment of our customers, our employees and the community in which we operate.” And it details a list of principles it has developed and adopted, including continual assessment of the aspects and impacts of “our activities, functions, products and services.”

It adds it is committed to preventing pollution, minimising waste and adopting measures to manage and improve “environmental performance.”

EPA spokeswoman Emily Williamson told the Leader that in 2011, the EPA received 165 complaints about the facility, and these were primarily related to odour and to a lesser extent noise.

In 2012, up to mid-March, the agency received 18 complaints about the licensed facility, again in relation to odour and noise. Ms Williamson added: “The EPA is actively enforcing this licence and has conducted a number of inspections and issued Notifications of Non-Compliance in relation to these issues. The EPA is progressing further enforcement actions to bring the facility into compliance with its licence.” Efforts by the Leader to elicit a comment by the company were unsuccessful.

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