Dunbar cement factory rapped after dust complaints from public

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An East Lothian cement plant has been handed a written warning from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) after an outbreak of dust from the site.

SEPA officers carried out an investigation into dust deposits in the Dunbar area after receiving a number of complaints from members of the public last September and October.

An investigation has now concluded that the Tarmac site was the most likely cause of the dust issues. SEPA expects Tarmac to review its procedures for monitoring and detection of dust emissions and has highlighted a need to identify excessive escapes before complaints are lodged.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA’s chief executive, said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and we are clear that compliance is non-negotiable.

“SEPA has carried out a full investigation into the causes of the dust complaints in Dunbar from September and October 2017. SEPA is clear that practices should be improved to prevent further events and ensure full compliance. The review of the operator’s permit is a key part of the steps SEPA is taking.”

A separate investigation is under way following other dust complaints in the area in May this year, with SEPA saying it would take the necessary action to “ensure the environment and local communities are protected”. Tarmac confirmed dust had escaped during an incident at the plant when a limestone-based product was being loaded into a storage shed. The firm claims damage to the roof of the shed and dry weather resulted in the dust leaving the site’s boundary.

That part of the plant was “immediately” shut down, with residents sent letters within 24 hours to notify them of the “isolated” incident.

Oliver Curtin, Tarmac’s Dunbar plant manager, said: “We are committed to minimising impacts from our business on the local community and environment and are working hard to ensure we meet increasingly stringent emissions limits.

“It’s disappointing to receive this letter from SEPA, but we recognise that, during September and October 2017, there may have been an increase in dust emissions. We apologise for any inconvenience or concern this caused locally. Since then, we have continued to work closely with SEPA to investigate and put practical measures in place to improve our monitoring processes.”

Scottish Labour MSP for East Lothian Iain Gray said: “Tarmac is an important business in East Lothian and generally has a good environmental record so this is worrying. I will certainly expect the company to quickly make the improvements SEPA has demanded.”