Toxic liquid and gas levels in excess of levels set by regulators have been found in a landfill dump near Naas, according to a confidential report to the environment watchdog.
The cleanup cost for the site is estimated at €30 million.
The controversial site was operated by Neiphin Waste Trading Limited (Neiphin), a subsidiary of Dean Waste, just over 3km outside Naas, close to the “Big Ball” landmark on the M7.
The report was prepared by Peter Young, strategy director at SKM Enviros, an environmental consultancy, “to provide an opinion on the potential environmental liabilities and asset value associated with Kerdiffstown landfill” for potential buyers.
“We met with the EPA several times, lobbying them to get the dump cleaned up,” said Joe Friel, spokesman for Clean Air Naas (CAN), a local environmental lobby group which obtained a copy of the secret report.
“They said they were pursuing a court case against the dump, but the company they’re going after has gone into liquidation,” he said.
Mr Friel explained that the cleanup would involve removing the rubbish in the landfill, and placing a protective lining in the landfill (in essense, a giant high-tech bin liner), before the site is filled again and a protective cover put on top, covered in soil.
The report was commissioned for the EPA on the advice of the liquidators of the company, since any company which wanted to take over the management of the site would have to be made aware of the clean-up costs involved.
The EPA shut down the Kerdiffstown dump in May 2010. Neiphin and Dean Waste filed for bankruptcy and appointed liquidators in June.
The report confirms that both toxic leachate (polluted toxic liquid sludge) and explosive gases are freely escaping from the dump.
The main findings are:
- “a confirmed impact of leachate (tainted water containing harmful substances) on groundwater along the north-eastern boundary of the site.”
- “confirmed landfill gas migration â€¦ with methane and carbon dioxide” exceeding site licence trigger levels.
Groundwater at the dump flows in the direction of the Morrell River, a tributary of the Liffey. The Morrell flows within 100m of the site.
Workers on the site could be exposed to “flammability and potential explosion risk of methane, and asphyxiation arising from accumulation of carbon dioxide and/or reductions in oxygen.”
The report also questions the legality of some of the methods used to dump waste on the site, which “do not appear to have been placed in a manner compliant with the existing site licence”, and may “represent an illegal deposit of materials.”
“To the best of our knowledge, the local authorities did not receive a copy of the report,” said Joe Friel from CAN.
“The EPA are responsible for the dump, which is leaking leachate and gasses into the broader community, and yet Kildare County Council was not told about this report, even though the EPA remit ends at the border of the dump.
“We feel the EPA have fallen down on their duty by not informing the council.”
He said the group delivered several copies of the report to the council.
“The councillors told us they had never heard of this before,” he explained.
In a High Court affidavit last February, the EPA alleged that 1.1 million tonnes of waste were illegally dumped with no records kept of what it contained.