Concerns over high levels of pollution in Cork Harbour have led to questions about how effective the Environmental Protection Agency really is?

A regular task for Cork Environmental Alliance is monitoring water quality levels in Cork Harbour based on publicly available data received from the companies who have factories and production plants situated on it.

Compliance with environmental regulations is not a given however, and one example is Irish Fertilizer Industries (IFI) who within the course of a month last year breached its emissions licence eleven occasions out of a possible twenty two. The company says it has improved its record in recent years, while operating under one of the strictest licences in Europe, issued by Cork County Council.

The Cork Environmental Alliance predicts that emissions by all companies will decrease, but not because of higher standards, as

New licences being issued by the Environmental Protection Agency are in fact less strict than the old local authority licences.

The EPA accepts that in some cases the licences do allow for higher levels of emissions, but according to Director Iain Maclean, companies are judged on their overall performance, and not for minor breaches.

What we're about is looking at the total level of pollution going into Cork Harbour, or indeed to any other area.

Cork Environmental Alliance are not convinced that the EPA are taking sufficient action to protect habitats and wildlife in Cork Harbour,

What they're actually doing is that they are just licencing industries to pollute the environment.

Data on environmental conditions in the harbour is recorded says Iain Maclean, and the EPA takes action against companies whose emissions are in excess of their limits,

There have been prosecutions in cases where activities are operating without licence.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 June 1996. The reporter is Carole Coleman.