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Piggery in talks with EPA to resolve dispute

THE owners of a piggery who have been facing possible imprisonment over alleged failure to comply with a court order to clean up their facility may resolve their dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the next month, a judge was told.

Last July, High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns gave Rory and Monica O'Brien an opportunity to carry out all the work they were required to do at their piggery in Killickane, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, under the court order made in June 2011. The work included emptying a significant amount of slurry from storage tanks.

The judge gave them until August to comply after he was told the very wet weather of the early summer had made in difficult for them to do so due to the fact that slurry removed from the tanks could only be spread in dry conditions.

The O'Brien piggery was one of the biggest in the country with over 30,000 pigs, but has now been de-stocked.

The EPA had applied for an attachment and committal to prison order against the O'Briens claiming, among other matters, that they had failed to empty slurry tanks which leaked into the ground water system.

Today, the EPA returned to Mr Justice Kearns to say that despite the adjournment last July, matters still had not been complied with and it (EPA) was now asking the court again to consider the attachment and committal application.

However, following discussions, counsel for the EPA said proposals had been drawn up between the parties which would need to be put into writing and considered by the EPA and an adjournment of the matter was sought.

Mr Justice Kearns said he would adjourn it for four weeks on the basis that constructive discussions were taking place.