Dawn Meats planning application process for wastewater treatment facility ‘in progress’
The planning application process for Dawn Meats’ proposed wastewater treatment facility is “ongoing”, the company said, as environmental group Save the Boyne recently filed an appeal with An Bord Pleanála for environmental concerns.
Dawn Meats has obtained permission from Meath County Council to construct a 7.2km pipeline from its Slane beef abattoir in Navan, Co. Meath, to discharge treated sewage into the River Boyne at a rate of 400 000 liters per day.
Talk to AgrilandSave the Boyne representative Tommy Martin McLarlol says Dawn Meats’ wastewater treatment plans fail to account for microbacteria and nutrients, which will have a ‘negative effect’ on salmon stocks and biodiversity .
The group also understands that the landowner at the outlet of the pipe has withdrawn their permit. McLarlol thus wondered how any ecological survey or environmental impact study can be valid if the access point is unknown.
Dawn Meats said third-party studies, including a Natura impact statement, have assessed “no negative impacts on the river or surrounding habitats”, and that the water will be treated to a “much higher standard than ‘currently possible’.
However, the Save the Boyne representative criticized Dawn Meats’ wastewater treatment plan, saying that even with UV treatment only some bacteria, not all, can be removed.
Sonairte, the National Ecology Centre, only referred to “partially treated” sewage in its appeal to Meat County Council. He stated:
“If the wastewater they produce isn’t clean enough right now to be reabsorbed into the process, it’s not clean enough to be discharged into the Boyne River.”
The biological treatment planned by Dawn Meats can only remove some, not all, of the nitrogen and phosphorus, which are not recommended to be discharged into rivers as they will have a “significant effect” on the environment, said Sonairte.
Discharging sewage would also pose a public health hazard, as more than 70,000 people get their drinking water from the Boyne River, according to Save the Boyne.
The river is one of the most important aquatic sites for salmon in the east of Ireland, and some rare plant species also occur in the Boyne, according to Sonairte.
However, over the past two years, McLarlol said, the river’s water table has been steadily falling, which was already threatening salmon stocks.
According to Save the Boyne, nearly half of Ireland’s surface water fails to meet the legally binding water quality objectives set by the EU’s Water Framework Directive, due to the pollution and other human disturbances.
The directive requires Ireland to achieve nationally good or high quality water status by 2027 and to prevent further deterioration of current water quality standards.
“It’s an issue that people are talking about locally. It’s just a real shame,” the group’s rep said, adding that submissions to the group’s appeal can be made until Monday, June 20, 2022.
In a recent statement, the meat processor said it made “significant environmental improvements” when it purchased Slane’s beef slaughterhouse in late 2017.
“We [Dawn Meats] take the concerns raised by the local community very seriously, but believe that the facts show that our €5 million investment plan will enable safer water treatment in line with best environmental practice.
The treatment will “exceed” any standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the new facility will be subject to regular monitoring by the EPA in accordance with licensing requirements.
Wastewater treatment facilities of this nature are a “standard feature” of food processing plants across the country, and this plant will be one of the most modern in Ireland when built, according to Dawn Meats.
The Save the Boyne representative criticized that the company’s proposal assumes everything will work 100% without leaks or failures.
“This plan could work for 20 years, however, it only takes one thing to happen and the river will never recover,” according to Save the Boyne representative Tommy Martin McLarlol.