The Environmental Protection Agency is concerned with what it describes as ‘repeated delays’ in starting construction on a much-needed new sewerage plant in Grange in North Sligo.
A contract for the design, building and operation of the plant, as well as plants in Tubbercurry, Strandhill and Ballinafad, is not now expected to be signed until the last quarter of this year at the earliest.
For years, there have been calls for new sewerage treatment plants in Grange, Tubbercurry and Strandhill, all in County Sligo.
In recent weeks, in and around Grange and nearby Streedagh, there have been complaints about a foul smell from the plant there.
Following an EPA visit to the plant last month, the agency reported on a number of issues it noted.
These included no screening at the inflow to the plant which, Ocean FM News understands, the EPA regards as ‘critical.’
There was also inadequate aeration, which involves pumping air into a tank to break down the waste and contaminants.
What was described as ‘significant odours’ were found at the plant as well as downwind of it, with ‘significant risk of odour nuisance’ at nearby dwelling houses.
The agency added that the onus is on Irish Water to comply with the requirements of the licence in relation to the plant, the terms of which, the EPA pointed out, are legally binding.
Local resident and former Fianna Fail election candidate Donal Gilroy asked the EPA about screening on the OUTflow from the plant to the Grange River.
In response, the EPA said the outlet from an aeration mixing tank was fitted with a screen and that the discharge from the plant through a pipe to the Grange River is controlled by the licence.
Meanwhile, as Irish Water seeks to compulsory acquire wayleaves, or rights of way, in preparation for installing pipes and building the four new plants, it has emerged that one landowner objected to the routing of an outfall pipe through his property.
Irish Water expects An Bord Pleanala will decide in August on the CPO process.
And it’s only if there’s a satisfactory conclusion to this CPO process that the expected signing can take place later this year of the already long-awaited contract for the four new plants.