Letter to EPA Re: Damaging Effect of EPA Policy

23rd February 2009

Re: Damaging Effect of EPA Policy

Dear Madam,

Further to our letter of the 13th January 2009, to which we have received no substantive reply, I wish once again to draw your attention to serious matters that the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for.

Many environmental and consumer issues have arisen as a consequence of your organisations dismissal of the fact that septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems are hazardous products which are used in domestic situations, also that you chose to ignore the fact that these products are subject to building, product safety and consumer protection regulations.

The attached is an extract from a typical set of Local Authority planning conditions concerning use of domestic wastewater treatment systems.

The conditions permit use only of systems which have been certified by mendacious and discredited Irish Agrément Board Certification which has dispensed with the requirement for a product to meet an officially recognised design standard, to incorporate essential safety requirements, to meet building, general product safety, and consumer protection regulations.

It should be recognized that Agrément do not have any facility to test or certify a systems performance, water tightness or durability, etc, but rely on suppliers claims. In other words the certifications are totally misleading and fraudulent.

The Local Authorities conditions also require complete adherence to the “guidelines” specified for installations in EPA 2000.

While the introduction to EPA 2000 purports to portray it as “guidance” and Local Authorities are required to have regard to EPA guidance, the content, syntax and tone of the document make it clear that its draft guidelines are to be enforced by Local Authorities in the guise of planning approval conditions.

We would again point out that EPA 2000

1. Is a draft document which was rejected by the Department of the Environment, deemed inadmissible by an aboard Pleanála and rejected by many others throughout both the industry and public service.

2. Specifies installation requirements (e.g. disposal arrangements) which are technically inappropriate and unsustainable.

As designers, manufactures and installers of treatment systems we are constrained by Irish Law i.e. the Building Regulations, and by the European law from which they derive, i.e. The Construction Products Directive, to comply with best engineering practice.

A wastewater treatment product supplier is obliged to design a product to an official standard and if no Irish Standard exists a European Standard shall be used. We are also obliged to have the product tested and certified by an E.U. notified body to confirm its performance, water tightness and structural durability. As there is no such body in Ireland or the UK the product must go to mainland Europe. As these are hazardous products the designers/suppliers are also obliged to comply with other statutory regulations.

We would also again point out that the imposition of technical requirements as blanket planning conditions to be enforced in all installations relieves us, as designers and installers, of professional responsibility where these requirements are inappropriate, unsustainable or problematic.

This situation is apparently also tacitly accepted by Local Authorities who require that installations be professionally certified to comply, not with Irish Building Regulations, not with European Construction Law, but with EPA 2000, a document with no legal standing whatsoever, and its attendant planning requirements. There is no requirement even to certify that the system will actually work in any given situation.

You, Madam, as Director General of the EPA, must take responsibility for a situation

1. Compromises Local Authorities by placing them in the direct chain of responsibility and liability for public health or environmental consequences arising from inappropriate or inadequate installations.

2. Requires designers/ suppliers of septic tanks, wastewater treatment and disposal to ignore or breach Statutory Building and other Regulations.

3. Facilitates designers/suppliers in evading responsibility for compliance with Building, General Product Safety and Consumer Laws.

4. Has resulted in widespread installation of unsustainable systems with an incalculable potential for environmental pollution.

The refusal of the EPA to adopt and manage responsible and logical policies in this field, which are not in conflict with other legal requirements, shows a culture of disregard for Local Authorities, the environment and consumers. It also raises the question as to whether the EPA, in its present form and structure, is capable of fulfilling its stated function.

As you have refused to respond to any of our correspondence or deal with this matter we are copying this letter to other affected parties.

If there is any part of this correspondence that you do not understand I would be pleased to meet with you or whoever you have dedicated the responsibility to.

Yours faithfully.

Frank Cavanagh
Managing Director, BioCycle Ltd.