A Cavan lobby group has welcomed a move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a review of the licence granted to Oxigen reducing the amount of biodegradable waste that it can accept at the Corranure landfill on the outskirts of Cavan town.
Cian Murtagh, the chairman of the Cavan Better Waste Management group told The Anglo-Celt that residents in the vicinity of Corranure had endured "the worst weekend ever" last weekend with the stench from the landfill.
He said that both he and members of the committee took countless calls over the weekend and on Monday from "very angry people" living all around the landfill in Drumalee and Ballyhaise. "They were complaining of waking up in the night, children being sick and terrible headaches. It was the worst weekend ever," said Mr. Murtagh.
In a statement, the EPA said that Corranure was one of a number of landfills being reviewed by the EPA. As part of the review process, objections can be made to the EPA to arrive no later than November 16.
As part of that review the EPA has issued a draft revised landfill licence for Corranure and imposed a number of stringent new conditions to minimise odour from the facility.
"The proposed change to the landfill licence was instigated by the EPA to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to this landfill and to impose stringent new conditions to minimise odour at the landfill," said an EPA release.
While welcoming the EPA's decision to restrict further the amount of biodegradable waste (which causes the smell) coming into the landfill, Mr. Murtagh is insisting that the EPA enforce the new terms strictly.
"To date, Oxigen has shown complete disregard for direct instructions from the EPA. We feel they won't listen and they won't heed the more stringent conditions," he said.
"When you read reports every two months going back two years and the first line reads 'the level of non-compliance at this facility is causing great concern to the EPA', it doesn't give you much confidence," added Mr. Murtagh.
He further called on the EPA to close Corranure to landfill as it did last Christmas until the odour is rectified and force Oxigen to pay a full-time EPA official based at the landfill.
That said, Mr. Murtagh agreed that if Oxigen abide by the new licence terms, it would have an "immediate effect" on the odour at the landfill.
It's expected, following the latest direction from the EPA, that Oxigen will now accelerate its plans to develop a biological treatment facility adjacent to the Corranure Civic Amenity Centre, which would deal specifically with biodegradable waste.
Oxigen has applied to the EPA for a licence to process up to 200,000 tonnes of waste annually in the new recycling park and biological treatment facility and An Bord Pleanála is expected to adjudicate on plans for the new 6,000 sq. m. plant.
Oxigen has said that the addition of a biological treatment facility to its operations will divert 95% of organic waste from landfill, which is responsible for producing the offensively smelling methane gas.
However, Cian Murtagh has said that Cavan Better Waste Management is still opposing the plans for the MBT plant, largely on the basis of Oxigen's track record at Corranure and the fact that people don't have faith in them to run the facility properly.
He noted that Cavan County Council officials and councillors travelled with Oxigen recently to see a fully functioning MBT plant in Germany but Mr. Murtagh said that members of Cavan Better Waste Management declined to go on the trip.
"They went to see an excellent facility in Germany run by an excellent company with a proven track record. They're not comparable. They're missing the point," remarked Mr. Murtagh.
However, County manager Jack Keyes is on the record as saying that Cavan intends to be one of the first counties in the country to move towards the type of biological treatment technology that is commonplace in Europe and which the council sees as key to diverting waste from landfill.
Despite this, the Cavan Better Waste Management group believes it has a "fighting chance" of achieving its original goal - getting the Corranure landfill closed when its licence expires. Capacity at the landfill is expected to run out some time in 2012.
At the time of going to print, no reply had been received from Oxigen in relation to the latest developments.
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