AS Shannon Town Council discussed the foul odours that have plagued the area this year, it was claimed that local children have been left dizzy and too ill to go to school.
While the odour hadn’t been very noticeable for some time, there were complaints that it was as bad as ever in the early part of this week.
A report prepared for Tuesday’s town council meeting by Ger Dollard, director of services with Clare County Council and Sean Water, senior engineer, water services, said a major upgrade of Shannon’s wastewater plant and sewer network would cost €22 million, while an interim scheme would cost between €2m and €2.5m.
However, they didn’t hold out much hope of the work happening very soon.
While Irish Water is set to take over responsibility for maintenance of the network, Mr Dollard and Mr Ward’s report said, “The approach of Irish Water in its early years is likely to concentrate on smaller and/or interim improvement schemes at a relatively low cost”.
However, they stated that as the Shannon Treatment Plant is on a list of European Court of Justice cases being brought against Ireland for breach of the EU directive on urban wastewater discharges, Irish Water might give higher priority to carrying out the interim works.
They said a proposal for desludging of the existing plant is being prepared for submission to the Department of the Environment, which would cost around €350,000.
The report claimed the prospect of attracting new business to Shannon is not being damaged. “The council is actively working with the airport authority and the enterprise agencies to promote economic development in the Shannon area. The new structures now in place add further impetus to that objective.
“All development proposals are considered on their merits. Many may have little or no demand on the wastewater treatment plant. If situations arise where wastewater treatment is an issue, the council will work with the prospective developer to devise appropriate solutions. Shannon is very much open for business.”
Councillor Flynn also had a motion about drainage cleaning contractors in Shannon. In a reply, senior executive engineer at the Shannon Area Office, Eugene O’Shea, stated that since October 14, the sewer line from Smithstown Industrial Estates to two pumphouses has “been the subject of cleaning and a detailed CCTV survey”.
It also stated that progress on the survey “was slow due to the presence of solid materials, including rocks, concrete, deposits of sediment etc that had to be removed from the sewer and disposed to a licensed landfill facility”.
Councillor Cathy McCafferty said on one morning during the week, she had been contacted by four people complaining about a “sickening smell”. She also said children have been kept out of school because they are suffering from dizziness and sickness.
Several of the council members were critical of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both because of issues related to the odour and Sunday’s events, which saw unstable material taken away from Enva, a company that it has issued with a licence.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy said there could be no compensation for what Shannon has endured over the last few months.
She said the authorities have still not got to the root of the matter and people are still not being told what has been put into the system.
The independent councillor said more needs to be done in terms of monitoring. “Self-governance hasn’t worked in any area of this country.”
Councillor Sean McLoughlin said the smell in the town has been near constant and he often gets it in the early morning.
Town manager Bernadette Kinsella said the county manager has written to the EPA within the last week expressing concern about a number of issues and has sought a meeting.