Children protest at plans for waste plant

CHILDREN protested yesterday against Ireland’s first proposed anaerobic waste digester, which could be built less than 500 yards from their school.

Meanwhile, their parents waited anxiously for results on test samples taken from nearby illegal waste lagoons, which the European Court had ordered to close more than a year ago.

Embattled residents in Araglin, Co Cork, feel their twin struggle is now coming to a head. Children launched balloons yesterday in protest at plans by Valeco, a subsidiary of Greenstar, to build a €75 million anaerobic digester on their doorstep. It is expected Cork County Council’s planning department will shortly give a ruling on the company’s application.

Valeco proposes to take agricultural waste, industrial sludge and organic waste from all over the south and convert it into fertiliser pellets and electricity.

Meanwhile, locals still fighting a 16-year battle to finally get the illegal lagoons removed, want to know the results of test samples taken as far back as May 26 last.

The lagoons, on the same site which Valeco proposes to build, were operated by a now defunct company and used to store industrial and agricultural waste. Residents are concerned residue there may be hazardous.

A Cork County Council spokeswoman said yesterday test results were imminent. She said that on May 26 complaints were received by the council’s environmental directorate and that on the same day environmental officers took samples from three of the lagoons, which were set for analysis to their Inniscarra laboratories.

“Environmental officers, accompanied by Cllr Liam O’Doherty, returned to the site on May 31 to test for possible contamination of the sediments in the bottom of the lagoons. Samples were taken from all six lagoons on the site, including sediment samples. These samples were sent from the Cork County Council laboratory at Inniscarra and to ELS Ltd to test for the presence of heavy metals. The results of the tests for the presence of heavy metals have not yet been received from ELS Ltd,” a council spokeswoman said.

She added that once received, results will be collated and appropriate action will be formulated.

Araglin Parents’ Association yesterday claimed a “cloud of fear” hangs over the school.

“If the (Valeco) facility goes ahead our greatest fear is that our small children and their teachers will pick up sickness and infection from the constant stench and noise pollution so near the school,” their statement said.

Parents also say the area is unsuitable for the number of heavy trucks which will service the facility if it is given the go-ahead.

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