French plant was ‘not working’ for Limerick council visit

by Alan Jacques

[email protected]

Gortadroma Landfill
Gortadroma Landfill

RESIDENTS living near the Gortadroma landfill site in West Limerick are angry that a gasification plant in France was not fully operational when it was visited by a delegation from Limerick city and county council last March.

Councillors from the Adare-Rathkeale municipal district asked to visit the Morcenx plant following a joint bid for the lease on the former Gortadroma landfill for the processing of municipal waste and the generation of electricity.

The overnight trip to the South of France, which took place on March 11, cost the local authority €10,128. It was attended by councillors Tom Neville (FG), Stephen Keary (FG), Ciara McMahon (SF) and Richard O’Donoghue (FF), along with municipal district director Tom Gilligan, executive engineer Gerard Doherty and two local community representatives.

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Residents in Ballyhahill now claim that the gasification facility in France was not working while the councillors were there. Michael Purtill who lives near the Gortadroma landfill site, also alleges that none of the representatives on the trip spoke to local residents in France to see exactly what impact the gasification plant has on their everyday lives.

“What benefit was this trip?” he asked.

“A local resident from Gortadroma went on the trip and he said they were told that the plant had a breakdown at 4am and that they did not see it working. At a meeting with Limerick County Council on Monday April 20, it was admitted that the plant was not working,” Mr Purtill claims.

Sinn Fein councillor Ciara McMahon told the Limerick Post that the group were informed on arriving at the gasification facility in Morcenx that the plant had broken down in the early hours of the morning.

“It was explained to us that the part that had stopped working was due to be replaced, so they were waiting for the new part the following week. The trip was a fast-paced fact gathering exercise and we spent every minute gaining as much information on the proposed plant as possible.”

Fine Gael councillor Tom Neville, told the Limerick Post that he shares and understands the reservations and concerns of local people given what they have had to endure with the landfill down through the years.

“All avenues need to be exhausted in exploring this correctly. This plant would give a much needed economic boost to the area with the provision of up to 140 jobs but the environment must not be compromised and local concerns need to be adhered to”, he said.

Mayor Kevin Sheahan (FF), who was not on the trip, said, “I am not familiar with the observations made by your reader but I want to assure you that this proposed project will have to go through a very intense planning process, which I expect will include a thorough investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency. I expect that concerns of any citizens will be expressed to the Planning Authority at the relevant time.”

A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said, “It was noted that the plant was only partially operational during the day of the trip. The plant was however still active and parts of the other machinery was still operational. This did not detract from the benefits of the visit.”

“The benefits of the trip included seeing a full-scale plant. Seeing the elements of the process including how the materials were handled and to be able to touch, feel, smell and hear the operation as well as being able to ask any questions of the French operator and of the proposed bidder while on site. It enabled the councillors, residents and staff to be better informed.”