Monday 20 April 2009

Galway council orders sewage dumping to stop

More than 30,000 tonnes of human waste were dumped on farmland in east Galway without proper environmental safeguards or controls for more than three years, The Sunday Business Post has learned.

Galway County Council has ordered Land Organics, a Kilkenny waste management company hired by Galway City Council, to stop dumping the so-called ‘sludge’ from the Mutton Island sewage treatment facility in the city.

Land Organics has said it will comply immediately with the council’s order, which it learned of last Friday. The city council will now have to make emergency arrangements for disposal of the waste, which is being produced at a rate of 130 tonnes per week.# The waste company has transported more than 7,000 tonnes of the city’s waste into rural east Galway each year since October 2005.

It has also taken about 3,000 tonnes of waste per year to the area from Mayo County Council. The sludge, which is a byproduct of the treatment process at the Mutton Island facility, was being stored on lands owed by an east Galway farmer before being spread on neighbouring agricultural lands as fertiliser.

Land Organics receives an undisclosed fee from Galway City Council to collect and dispose of the waste.

The city council did not comment when contacted last week.

Documents seen by this newspaper show that Galway Co Council had informed local activists on numerous occasions that the facility where the sludge was being stored did not require planning permission or an environmental assessment. However, it has now said that permission is required, and ordered that dumping stop immediately.

Locals in the Clonfert, Meelick and Eyrecourt areas of east Galway have campaigned against the waste dumping since 2005. They have complained that the smell from the waste has damaged their quality of life and have raised concerns about adverse health effects.

Sunday Business Post

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