THE cost of the clean-up of a massive illegal dump uncovered in Knockbridge last week will run to hundreds of thousands of euro.
Louth County Council believes the 140-acre site, near Cavan Hill water treatment plant, could take months to clear. The initial investigation, which started on Wednesday morning, saw hundreds of litres of sludge and diesel being pumped out of a quarry that was on the land.
In addition, a large amount of rubble and builder's waste as well as dozens of buried animal carcasses, mostly cattle, and hundreds of tyres were also cleared from seven sites on the land.
The council moved quickly to reassure the public that there is no threat to the Dundalk water supply from the dump, which, officials believe, could have been in use for years.
Director of Services for the council, Des Foley, said the operation to inspect and start clearing the site was one of the biggest every undertaken by the local authority.
'We completed our initial investigations on the site on Thursday afternoon and by then, we had found seven different dumping sites on the 140 acres. There was a wide variety of waste discovered and specialist equipment and environmental consultants were brought in to tackle some of it, especially the oil and diesel waste.
'While it is very difficult to quantify, I can say the diesel waste was significant'.
Mr. Foley said their main concern on site was the threat of pollution.
'We moved quickly to deal with the threat of pollution and we used specialist pumping equipment to get the sludge out and into proper containers. That, and the other material, was then moved off site'.
Mr. Foley said there are still pollutants on the land, and he believes the most difficult part of the cleanup operation will be the removal of the diesel sludge. The council plans to continue working with their environmental consultants to ensure the site is cleaned up properly.
He said the Gardai accompanied his council colleagues on site and were the lead organisation in what he believes will be a 'complex and substantial investigation'.