A controversial landfill site located between Loughrea and Ballinasloe is to be re-opened by the Galway County Council - but only so it can be closed permanently in future.
The dump in Kilconnell was formerly operated by Greenstar and was a source of major controversy and objection when it was established in 2005 to serve the waste disposal needs of the Connacht region. A receiver was appointed to Greenstar in 2012 and the dump is now inactive. The county council has been charged with the aftercare of the site.
At Monday night’s local authority meeting, director of services for the environment Jim Cullen outlined plans for the future of the waste facility. He said the current situation at the site was unsatisfactory and there was a need for a long term solution. There are currently a number of waste cells that are un-capped and could pose a potential health risk if they are left untouched. There is room in these cells for up to 300,000 tonnes of waste.
Jim Cullen told the chamber that there would be no further involvement with Greenstar. He said the remediation plan would lead to the ultimate closure of the facility in three and a half years time. “It is proposed to re-open the site for waste for a defined period. A number of cells would degrade if left uncovered for too long, which would have serious consequences and lead to significant extra cost for the council. Specifically it has been requested that the council take ownership of the site. The council will require commitment that the costs for doing so will be fully underwritten by the Department of the Environment.’’
Independent representative Timmy Broderick, who lives in close proximity to the the landfill, said Galway County Council had proved itself to have a good track record operating and maintaining the site. “There has been a lot of discussion about re-opening, by doing this we can be assured of a final closure. It is not the populist option but it is the sensible option. As long as the assurances we are getting here are met, there can be a safe conclusion to this.’’
Local Sinn Féin councillor Dermot Connolly said the arrangement would allow for the remediation of the existing full cells aswell. He was happy as long as the council would not be footing the bill for the work. “People have huge environmental concerns about aftercare of the site. Let’s hope this brings certainty to the situation without any outlay for the council.”
Fine Gael’s Aidan Donoghue said there was no doubt that lessons were to be learnt from this protracted debacle. He said he would be holding Jim Cullen to his commitment that the door would be closed permanently when the remaining cells were filled. “Nobody wants to see a landfill in their area. The site as it stands is toxic and ready for capping.” Party colleague Michael Finnerty praised the work of Jim Cullen and his staff and said it was heartening to see a definite option for the site. “I for one am quite happy to go with this proposition.”
Councillor Michael Connolly was also satisfied with the proposal being tabled. “A lot of people have a lot of work done on this, doing nothing is not an option, the landfill has to be remediated and I think this solution can work.’’
Fianna Fáil representative Donal Burke’s support for the plan meant meant the full quota of Ballinasloe area councillors were in favour of the remediation work. “If it is left as it is, it’s a potential health risk. Something has to be done to facilitate the safety of the cells. The ultimate aim is to make this site safe for locals.”