Locals fear ‘contamination’ from County Limerick waste facility

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

PLANS by a West Limerick bin company to open a waste transfer facility on the site of the old Kantoher poultry factory in Killeedy have sparked angry protests by members of the local community.

PLANS by a West Limerick bin company to open a waste transfer facility on the site of the old Kantoher poultry factory in Killeedy have sparked angry protests by members of the local community.

However White’s Skip Hire of Broadford has insisted that the proposed facility, which will initially handle 4,000 tonnes of waste per year, will pose no risk to the environment and will create six to ten new full-time jobs.

Over 100 people attended a public meeting in Raheenagh this Monday night to discuss the plans to renovate sections of the old plant for a waste transfer facility, which will see recyclables and other materials separated from collected household waste.

Miriam Magner-Flynn, a member of a protest committee opposed to the plans, said that the there is “huge opposition” among locals who fear that the plant will create problems with vermin, noise and odours. Likewise, she said that the local water supply will be at risk of “contamination”, as it is only 80 metres from the proposed facility.

Prior to Monday night’s meeting at the Raheenagh community hall, White’s Skip Hire held their own information day in which locals were invited to read pre-planning material.

Ms Magner-Flynn said that she and other locals were given “incomplete and contradictory” information by the company about how much waste will be handled at the plant, and what its opening hours will be.

Ms Magner-Flynn said that while the company have claimed the facility will only process 4,000 tonnes of waste opening from 9am-6pm five days per week, the pre-planning submissions allow for up to 20,000 tonnes of waste and operation for up to 16 hours, six days per week.

Ms Magner-Flynn said that locals had found the company to be “very evasive” in answering questions and addressing concerns.

However a spokesperson for White’s said that the facility would pose “no danger to the environment” or neighbouring residents and businesses.

He denied that the company plans to process up to 20,000 tonnes of waste, insisting that the realistic maximum would be 6,000 tonnes. “We don’t have capacity for any more than that” the spokesperson added, also denying that the company intended to process waste from other collectors.

The spokesperson said that White’s intend to revitalise the old Kantoher facility, which is derelict, creating between six and ten new full-time jobs in the process. He added that information presented at Monday night’s meeting about apparent vermin and environmental problems was related to an unlicensed waste facility in Kerry, which has been the subject of prosecution.

The spokesperson said that since it began its domestic waste service White’s has “significantly reduced the cost of waste collection in West Limerick”.

Trevor Montgomery, a planning consultant working with White’s on the scheme, said that no formal application for Kantoher has been submitted, and that “it is not the only site” in West Limerick they are considering.

Mr Montgomery said that White’s currently collects 4,000 tonnes of waste annually, and even if the facility is opened it could only feasibly increase its capacity to 6,000 “in five to ten years”. He said that the facility would be subject to rigorous quarterly inspections from Limerick County Council. Regarding proximity to the water supply, Mr Montgomery said that there is only a recommended distance of 250 metres, and no formal regulation.