Over 120 people have attended a Youghal meeting opposing Cork County Council’s decision to grant sludge treatment plant Eras Eco Ltd permission to expand its operations towards processing hazardous waste. The meeting pledged to contest the company’s licence application through a community-wide campaign. The proposed €10m upgrade at its Foxhole plant would allow treatment of toxic materials but the decision is currently under appeal to Bord Pleanala.
Quoting Eras Eco’s most recent environment report, meeting organiser Michelle Hennessy said 2009 saw over 40 level limit exceedances, including 36 Carbon Oxygen Demand (organic compounds) breaches plus exceedances in Biochemical Oxygen Demand, chemical gases, suspended solids, sulphate, ammonia and one cyanide, of which the level limit is 0.01mg/l and an exceedances reached 0.033mg/l.
The EPA says just 11 Notifications of Non Compliance, have been issued since the plant commenced operations (in 2006 under AVR Environmental Solutions Ltd), three of which related to exceedances of licence limits,” and two to “odour assessments.”
The plant, which employs 10 workers and occupies a 35-year least from Youghal Town Council, was acquired by Eras Eco Ltd in 2008. Under its original planning permission, effluent discharge must be connected to a council-owned wastewater plant when it is in operation, though this awaits construction.
Last November the EPA forbade discharges into the estuary pending implementation of “a strict remedial action programme.” Eras Eco says it treats wastewater from the drying process through “a dedicated wastewater treatment plant on-site,” while the EPA says wastewater is “transported off-site.”
Local protestor Eileen McGoldrick has accused Cork County Council of “once again, regarding Youghal as just a dump.” Meanwhile Fine Gael TD for Cork East David Stanton said he was “very concerned” and would be “raising the issue at the highest level” in the Dail. “Companies must operate to the highest standards or be shut down,” he stated.
An Eras Eco spokesman says, “It is disappointing that misunderstanding of the implications of the proposed development is causing unnecessary anxiety,” adding that, “the proposed development involves the application of well-established, proven technology with excellent environmental credentials.”
He adds, “All exceedances of EPA emissions were minor” and the company “has never exceeded its total mass emission limits and progressively reduced our discharges since acquiring the site in 2009.”(sic).
Another public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday August 31st 2011.