The dump in Kilconnell will stop accepting landfill waste – for good – in 2019, it was confirmed this week.
However, the landfill site, which caused much angst in the greater Ballinasloe area when it was first mooted well over a decade ago, will require at least 25 years of ‘aftercare’.
Galway County Council director of services for environment, water and emergency services, Jim Cullen, gave a cast-iron assurance that the Department of Environment would fund the after-care programme until 2045.
Mr Cullen said there was “zero risk” to the Council and the contract with the Department was “legally binding” in relation to the cost of aftercare including leachate.
Mr Cullen and Senior Executive Engineer, Mike Melody, gave an update on the Kilconnell dump to members of Ballinasloe Municipal District at the latest meeting.
The dump was closed and stopped taking waste back in 2012 when a receiver was appointed to the operators Greenstar.
The County Council subsequently, following negotiations, took over the running of the facility. It reopened under the local authority about eight months ago, and recommenced taking waste.
In a presentation to councillors, Mr Melody gave an outline of the plans to ‘wind down’ the dump and to ‘cap’ the landfill that has filled it over the years since it was first opened in 2005.
He explained to councillors that for three years and eight months contractors will be on-site ‘capping’ the landfill site, which is effectively closing off the waste that has been dumped.
The first phases of the capping of cells 1-5 will commence in the second quarter of this year – Fehily Timoney and Company won the contract for the job after a competitive tender process that began last year.
Cells number 6-9 will be capped in 2018 and 2019, and the final two cells will be capped in October 2020.
The works will include soil placement, drainage and landscaping over the capped cells.
Mr Cullen, under questioning from councillors, confirmed that the dump would continue to accept waste up to the first quarter of 2019.
When the Council took over the facility, the site still had capacity for some 300,000 tonnes of waste.
In 2016, some 50,000 tonnes of waste was accepted and it is envisaged that more than 100,000 tonnes will be accepted in 2017 and 2018, with far less in 2019.
Mr Melody said the 60-hectares site was opened for 100 days in 2016, and was closed for just one and a half hours due to high winds.
It accepted just over 48,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste from eleven collectors around Connacht, as well as over 4,000 tonnes of recovery materials since August last year.
None of the waste was hazardous, he confirmed, which was in keeping with the waste licence.
There are nine County Council staff working on-site, with two back-office support employees working from Council offices in Liosbaun in the city. The Department is reimbursing the Council for the cost of staffing the facility, the meeting heard.
In his update, Mr Melody told Councillors that there were no major accidents on site during that time but there was one minor accident when a third-party surveyor “slipped in the landfill”.
He was treated in hospital for a “minor rib injury” and released the same day, he said.
There were just two complaints received since the Council took over – one for noise and one for smell.
Sinn Féin County Councillor Dermot Connolly said he was chairman of the landfill liaison committee, which was at times a “poisoned chalice” but he praised the local authority for the manner it has run the facility since Greenstar ceased.
Fine Gael’s Aidan Donoghue applauded the Council for how they have run the dump, and he suggested they look at planting woodlands around it once it is capped.
Independent Timmy Broderick criticised the Environmental Protection Agency, who “took the eye off the ball” in relation to securing a bond from Greenstar to pay for the aftercare of the facility. Mr Cullen assured him that would not happen again.
He confirmed there had been “100% cooperation with the Department of Environment”.
The relationship with the EPA is how it should be – the Council runs the site and they supervise that. “We’ve no difficulty with them inspecting the site, any day,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Cullen gave assurances to Cllr Dermot Connolly that he would hold a public meeting to inform the public of Council plans to build an integrated wetland at Poolboy Landfill in Ballinasloe.
He agreed it was a “good news story” and was a measure that would help the environment and the Council needed to communicate what exactly they are doing since An Bórd Pleanála granted permission in January for the construction of a wetland.
Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash
A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.
Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.
The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.
The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.
The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.
Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them.
Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra
Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.
The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.
A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.
“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.
“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”
Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’
Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.
At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.
A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.
Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.
“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.
With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.
“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.
The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.
Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.
Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.
The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.
Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.
A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.
“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.