Residents living close to East Ferry have stepped up their opposition to plans by Dairygold to discharge up to 4 million litres of treated wastewater daily into the inner Harbour. The Lower Harbour residents fear their community will die if the company are granted an EPA Licence .
The outfall is located between two protected sites for migratory birds, one of which is to the north of the pipe along the northern shores of the Great Island. The second is just beyond East Ferry to the south at Saleen Creek.
Dairygold, who have yet to obtain a Discharge Licence from the EPA, are set to begin the ground works for laying the final section of pipe work today (Thursday 15 August) which will run from Barnard Cross to the Irish Water outfall at Rathcoursey West.
The project is expected to take up to eight weeks to complete.
Debbie Hayes of Save Cork Harbour says the residents “don’t want 4 million litres of industrial waste going into one of Ireland’s biggest beauty spots. [Dairygold] say it will be treated, but they also say in their application that not all of it can be treated.”
Damien McGovern, a Global Environmental Regulations Consultant, says allowing the Dairy Co-operative to lay the pipe work without a discharge licence “diminishes the public’s trust in every politician, because it looks to be corrupt. Justice needs to be done, as well as seen to be done” he said.
Mr McGovern, who employs over 100 people at his firm Compliance and Risk, said “in this instance, if a licence is granted, the EPA looks like it’s in the pockets of business and Government and that’s outrageous.”
Dairygold, who have partnered with Tine SA, Norway’s largest farmer owned Dairy Co-Operative, have construct a new Jarlsberg cheese production facility alongside Dairygold’s existing specialty cheese unit in Mogeely.
Construction of the factory includes a new Waste Water Treatment Plant to deal with the food grade waste.
The company has been asked for comment but none had been forthcoming prior to this paper going to print.
Dairygold has, however, argued in the past that the effluent will be discharged during EBB tides with the water undergoing an 80% exchange, so a significant discharge event will meet new water coming in.
While the region welcome the growth in the Mogeely site, environmental concerns remain on everyone’s mind.
The Save Cork Harbour group say neap tides and spring tides have different flow rates, so it would be questionable as to whether or not the effluent would be sufficiently flushed out of the Estuary.
They say the worry is that with a south westerly gale, the prodominant winds in the harbour , the fats, oils and grease that sit on the surface of the water, would be blown back in.
In a previous interview with the East Cork Journal, Dairygold maintained they will be careful to be good stewards of the environment by treating the waste prior to dispersal.
Water that does not meet the limits specified by the Environmental Protection Agency will not discharge, and will be returned for further processing.
The effluent, they said, is classified as grey water and therefore of sufficient quality to be ideal for use in horticulture and irrigation.