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Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd’s serious concerns for staff safety at wastewater plant

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Deputy Fergus O'Dowd at the wastewater plant on the Marsh Road.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd at the wastewater plant on the Marsh Road.

The wastewater treatment plant has been investigated as the source of the smell on the Marsh Road.

The wastewater treatment plant has been investigated as the source of the smell on the Marsh Road.

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Deputy Fergus O'Dowd at the wastewater plant on the Marsh Road.

droghedaindependent

Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd has expressed serious concern about the safety of the wastewater treatment plant on the Marsh Road after he had a series of reports released under the Freedom of Information Act.

In one correspondence between operators EPS and Irish Water in 2021, reference is made to ‘leakage from the holes which represents an intolerable risk to site personnel’, and that the digesters should be ‘immediately decommissioned’.

“That document raises serious safety concerns in respect of reports carried out on Drogheda and Dundalk digesters which concluded that the operation of the Digesters and the leakage from the holes represents an intolerable risk to site personnel, and that the Digesters should be immediately decommissioned,” explains Deputy O’Dowd, who had been campaigning to have the persistent malodour investigated for years.

“Obviously my primary concern would be for the health and safety of staff who may be exposed to toxic, but also members of the public who have had to tolerate a a dreadful smell for years.”

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Irish Water agreed with the consultant’s report and recommended that the plant ‘cease operation of the Digesters and decommission them in a safe manner at the earliest available opportunity’.

"In all the years I have been requesting information about what is causing the smell, I have never been told about any issue like this, so it makes me question the transparency and accountability,” adds the Louth TD. “Another document outlines a concern that the Digester is excessively leaking and will contaminate the atmosphere with Hydrogen Sulphide and Methane Gas, and make references to discharge being rancid and causing mal odours at their sampling point.

“Another states that it should be noted that the composite sample from Byranstown 28/06/2020 was rancid and had an alarming hydrogen sulphide level of 7.5ppm which may cause mal odours. I want to know has the IW network team come to any conclusions why the Byranstown line is full of grease and rancid at times. These may be the reason why local residents are experiencing malodours.”

Reference is also made to ‘holes which are starting to sporadically appear on all tanks and will need to be visually checked on a daily basis”. It states that ‘if these holes start to gather momentum in numbers, they have the ability to collapse the tank’.

“I am questioning the safety of the entire plant and its staff, and separately I received confirmation from the EPA that they have issued a second directive due to the severity of the ongoing situation,” says Deputy O’Dowd. “I would like to know why they are not being fined if the first directive wasn’t followed, and will be requesting the photos they mentioned in my next query.”

He says members of the public should continue to report odours as they occur directly to Irish Water's call centre which operates 24/7 on 1800 278 278 or by email at operations@water.ie.


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