EPA investigating sewage treatment system at Burtonport

Michelle Nic Phaidin

Reporter:

Michelle Nic Phaidin

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating complaints they received about the treatment of sewage from the Altan Estate in Burtonport.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating complaints they received about the treatment of sewage from the Altan Estate in Burtonport.

The Altan Housing scheme in Burtonport, consists of 21 houses which was acquired by Donegal County Council as a turnkey scheme and was completed in October 2008 and allocated to the tenants in January 2009.

According to a statement from the council the scheme is serviced by an on-site effluent treatment system, a system which requires de-sludging for the effective operation of the process and it was recently de-sludged by a licenced contractor. The statement confirmed that the council are having ongoing discussions with a representative from the EPA regarding this issue.

Donegal County Council has informed the EPA that they are carrying out tests on the plant effluent this week and will be advising the EPA of proposed actions early next week.

The EPA issued a Certificate of Authorisation for discharges from Burtonport on June 3, 2011. This authorisation covers discharges from small treatment plants serving two housing estates, plus the untreated discharge from the village to the sea beside the pier.

A brief has been prepared for the new proposed Burtonport sewerage scheme. However, Burtonport is not listed on any development programme at present.

Sinn Féin Councillor Marie Therese Gallagher said: “There has been serious issues with the treatment plant installed in Altan estate for a number of years, residents have been raising this issue with the Council but the Council have failed to act to resolve the problem. I welcome the fact that the EPA are investigating the issue, as it is clear from the Certificate of operation which was issued to the Council, the obligation on the Council is to ensure that both treatment plants in Altan and An Choill are operating properly and to full capacity. It is clear this has not been the case and I feel the Council have serious questions to answer on this issue.”

She added that she was alarmed to read within the certificate of Authorisation issued on April 18, 2011, that the council were to identify appropriate improvements to the waste-water works in Burtonport including all effluent being discharged at the pier, to my knowledge this has not been completed.”

She added that the fact that Burtonport was classified in the County Development Plant as a village did not idtentify the need for investment in the area.”

“Burtonport, like all other towns and villages in West-Donegal have been long promised a sewage treatment system, I welcome the fact that the EPA are investigating the situation and may force the Government to provide funding for this long awaited infrastructure,”she said.

Donegal County Council has a legal obligation under the EPA authorisation to manage waste water discharges in Burtonport such that they do not cause environmental pollution. The Council has to identify appropriate treatment improvements to the sewerage system including a waste water treatment plant.

Should the residents not be satisfied with the Council’s handling of their complaints they have the option of formally submitting their complaint to the EPA. There is a new on-line complaint form available on the EPA website to facilitate this process. https://lema.epa.ie/complaints.