While the landfill site at Ballydonagh outside Athlone is no longer in operation as a waste management facility as of last week, the council have maintained a facility for members of the public to continue to dispose of household waste directly.
Waste management company Oxigen are operating a facility on the existing site, whereby they take in waste before removing it to another facility.
The council decided to maintain this service at Ballydonagh due to the ongoing need for waste disposal facilities in the Athlone area, and in order to prevent public dumping if Ballydonagh closed its gates altogether.
Hugh O’Reilly, senior executive officer of Westmeath’s environment section, explained this week that the site had come to its natural end.
“When the Ballydonagh site opened it was state-of-the-art; it was one of the first lined sites which was fully contained to stop leaching of groundwater, etc. We had always envisaged it coming to the end of its life around now, and its closure ties in with the national policy that the quantity of landfill sites reduces as levels of recycling go up. In the Midlands region around 39 per cent of waste is now recycled. Less is going to landfill and demand for landfill is reducing,” said Mr O’Reilly.
Management of the site will continue for up to 30 years, as gas, odour, and leachate levels have to be monitored.
“There are outstanding works to be done on site, such as the placing of a permanent cap over the site. Two thirds of the site already has a final cap, and at present a temporary cap is being put over the final third. This last section will have a permanent cap by the end of next year,” explained Mr O’Reilly.
“The leachate - water run off from the site - has to be collected and taken to the sewage treatment plant, and gas is collected and flared off. We are looking at the possibility of using this gas for energy generation. Nothing is released to the environment.”