Two separate items in the Mayo News concerning smells from the drying of sewage sludge:
A: Cllr. Frank Leneghan said … "the people of Geesala were unable to open the windows in their houses all summer long." Director of Services, Mr. Ray Norton, said Glancre were currently claiming that they had planning permission in the same way as the previous operators of the plant had because they were now producing fuel. "We are currently carrying out an audit of all 60 planning permission conditions and we need time to comply a comprehensive report. The company will be given time to get their house in order."
B: RESIDENTS in the Belleek and Quay areas of Ballina are facing three years of "torture" if the local Town Council does not agree to move a sludge processing facility that is causing obnoxious odours on a daily basis. The issue was the subject of an emergency debate at last week’s meeting of Ballina Town Council with several members claiming they had been inundated with complaints about the controversial sludge plant. One member claimed the smell from the facility would "remove the lining off your nostrils". However, the councillors failed to secure any concessions from the Town Council officials who maintained that the sludge processing machine will remain at its present location—near the Town Park—for another three years at least. It is eventually planned to establish a new facility at Derrinumera Landfill Site, between Castlebar and Newport. Under strict environmental legislation, sludge has to be dried out before it is taken to the landfill site at Rathroneen. It is this drying process—using a combination of sludge and lime—that is causing such problems in Ballina.
What happens if a farmer creates a smell by spreading slurry on a bank holiday or indeed on any day of the Summer or Winter? Not much. Would county councillors call a meeting? Unlikely. But regularly we slurry smells wafting through the centre of Castlebar. A couple of fine days with a bit of a breeze and there it was - a pig slurry smell invading the Mall - Chanel Numero Uno wafting 'pugnaciously' into your nostrils. We were subjected to this, for example, the day the Olympic Flame arrived in Castlebar. Imagine what our visitors thought - what is that awful smell? Does anybody use deodarants in Castlebar? Was an emergency meeting of Mayo County Council held? Not likely.
It all says something about the power of farmers in this region. They can cause us all to run to close our windows to keep the smell of pig slurry out of our homes and workplaces. We don’t even know where we should complain. Not much point complaining to a councillor – chances are he’s a farmer anyway! Is it against the law to pollute the air with foul smells from pig excrement or cattle slurry? Probably not. No bye-laws in Mayo about slurry spreading because the law makers are farmers or are heavily influenced by the farming lobby. So it is interesting to see town dwellers objecting to smells and even more interesting to see the Geesala 10 objecting when a town smell arrives on their doorstep.
I was amused to hear the IFA representative yesterday on the News at One complaining that their shellfish in Clew Bay have been downgraded from A quality to the B quality category because they are becoming increasingly contaminated by bacteria washing off the land around Clew Bay. Shellfish concentrate bacteria from the water and now Clew Bay shellfish have to go through a cleansing process before they are saleable. This means more costs and lower prices as previously they could be eaten straight from the sea quite safely. Apparently the IFA has members involved in shellfish farming. This is the ultimate irony as we now have one branch of the IFA dumping their excrement on the other – a la the old cattle versus sheep range wars in the Wild West – the Wild West of the USA not the Wild West of Mayo that is. What was the cause of the downgrading? "Where were the bacteria coming from" asked RTE’s Richard Crowley? The IFA shellfish man blamed one-off houses (surely not the houses on sites sold off by the land-based IFA members?). He also pointed the finger at sewage treatment works (but isn’t there a brand new sewage works finally installed in Westport?). He must have been suffering from interviewee stress and nerves though because for some reason he forgot to mention the IFA practice of dumping slurry onto wet fields and into drains and streams that ultimately lead into Clew Bay. The sheep farming members of the IFA have to shoulder their share of the blame too. The IFA’s overgrazing sheep having stripped the mountainsides around Clew Bay bare of heather and vegetation. The vegetation that once would have retained their droppings is now gone and there is nothing left now to stop the droppings being easily swept off the land. Into the nearest river down to the sea - giving those shellfish some more nice juicy, fresh bacteria to concentrate waiting for some lucky diner in a posh restaurant.
But coming back to the sludge smell. In the old days we dumped sewage sludge at sea. Nowadays the EU forbids it. So we have to dry it and landfill it or put it out on land as dry pellets - the horticulture people love the stuff. I reckon it won’t be long before our sewage sludge can be dried with a proper deodorising stage incorporated so nobody will notice. We will be waiting though for the same in the case of pig and cattle slurry smells with all their attendant viruses and aerosol-borne bacteria wafting through the middle of Castlebar. So next time you smell slurry wafting through the streets of Castlebar why not complain to someone like your nearest IFA Member of the County Council?
Councillor’s "codology" comments prompt uproar
A MEMBER of Ballina Town Council has accused his fellow councillors of wasting valuable time at monthly meetings by raising petty matters under Any Other Business. Cllr. Ray Collins caused uproar at last week’s meeting when he suggested that Any Other Business was "a load of codology" and ought to be scrapped. "There were 35 items raised under A.O.B. at last month’s meeting and 75 the month before that. The Council would want to employ 50 new people to deal with all that. I think A.O.B. is a load of codology. We should give a list to the engineer of the things we want to see done. There is no need to raise some of these items at a public meeting. It’s the same rubbish that’s been going on in here for the last 30 years. If the councillors knew their business they would pick out three items each month and leave it at that. What we have now is a litany of items that never seems to end. It’s like saying the Rosary!"