Laois dump set to close because of costs

THE landfill at Kyletalisha will be closed by the end of this year, but it will continue to cost almost €1 million annually to maintain the facility when closed.

THE landfill at Kyletalisha will be closed by the end of this year, but it will continue to cost almost €1 million annually to maintain the facility when closed.

The recycling facility will remain open to the public for the long term, and household waste will still be accepted from individuals, but will be shipped elsewhere.

The facility will cost Laois County Council €950,000 a year for the next five years, afterwards falling to €800,000 annually. Aftercare of the 80 hectare site, which lies on bogland between Portlaoise and Mountmellick, will cost €200,000 annually for the next thirty years, including replanting the site and preventing leaks from the full cells, some of which are unlined. Some staff will remain at the facility, while others will be redeployed elsewhere.

The decision to close was made by Laois County Council in light of competition from the incinerator in Duleek, Co Meath, owned by Indaver who also bale and ship Irish waste to their incinerators in Europe. They also blamed the economic downturn, which has reduced waste by 25% nationwide. Opening up a new cell would cost an estimated €2.5 million.

“There is already one incinerator, and another about to be built. Weighing it up, there is no doubt in my mind but to suspend operations. We could end up with a huge debt,” said Laois County Manager Peter Carey.

Kyletalisha is expected to make a loss of €935,000 this year, with income from gate fees having fallen dramatically by 67% since 2007. The council attempted to sell the facility, or parts of it, in 2009 and 2010, but were unsuccessful.

The landfill site was opened in 1959, and has had a sometimes controversial history, with complaints from nearby residents of smells and fears of leaks. 32 of the 80 hectares are now filled with waste. Since 2010 it has been licenced and strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. A monitoring committee, in partnership with local residents, will continue to oversee the facility.

County Manager Peter Carey says signs are good for converting methane gas released by the decomposing waste into electricity.

“There are fairly positive signs, and we will be able to realise income from that, putting electricity back into the gid, that is positive news,” he said.

Cllr Marty Phelan, who is also chair of the monitoring committee, supports the closure.

“If it continues to stay open, and they open Cell 16, it is highly possible it will be a big liability to this country,” he said at last Monday’s County Council meeting.

“I thought I’d never see this day,” said Cllr Paddy Bracken. “There has been controversy, but it has been brought to a high standard. I want to recognise the input of staff, and the environment they worked in for quite some time. It’s sad we are where we are, but it is vital we keep the recycling facility open,” he said.