Portlaoise on shortlist to become a location for a 'sludge hub'

Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter

Portlaoise on shortlist to become a location for a 'sludge hub'

Portlaoise waste water treatment works

Portlaoise could soon be home to two large waste reprocessing plants with confirmation that Irish Water is to consult the public on the possibility of locating a Regional Sludge Hub Centre that would reprocess human waste in the Laois town.

In a week when Bord na Móna resubmitted a plan for a big organic waste reprocessing facility, Irish Water has announced that Portlaoise is on a shortlist of locations for processing sludge waste produced by sewerage works.

Irish Water is assessing the sewerage treatment works at the Ridge Road in Portlaoise as a potential location as part of switching to a hub and spoke model of turning human wast into sludge that can be used for fertiliser.

The company is also generating energy from the process. Part of the plan would see the use of anaerobic digestion to maximise energy recovery from the process.

The Portlaoise works could be upgraded if economically feasible.

Bord na Móna also plans to produce energy from its proposed plant in Portlaoise by rotting organic waste collected from households.

Irish Water says a Site Selection Methodology Report has identified other wastewater treatment plants in: Longford, Dundalk and Drogheda, Navan, Mullingar and Tullamore as potential regional centres in the Eastern and Midlands region.

The utility says the assessment of these wastewater treatment plants as Sludge Hub Centres will be based on environmental, planning, economic, and technical factors.

A report published as part of the consultation says that wastewater sludge is currently treated to produce biosolids at Sludge Hub Centres such as Portlaoise. It says sludge hubs are typically located at large wastewater treatment plants and accept sludge from the surrounding region for treatment.

It wants to develop a hub and spoke model whereby bigger new or upgraded sludge treatment facilities will accept and treat of wastewater sludge on a wider regional basis. The company claims this will improve environmental outcomes, reduce sludge quantities for disposal, improve energy recovery, reduce operating costs and reduce overall energy consumption.

Irish water says wastewater sludge is considered to be a valuable product with potential benefits in terms of nutrients, organic and energy content. It says treated wastewater sludge can be particularly beneficial as a soil conditioner and source of fertiliser.

Irish Water said the National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan 2016 sets out a nationwide strategy for managing wastewater sludge now and over the next 25 years. It says one of the recommendations of the report was to develop a number of existing sludge treatment facilities into regional Sludge Hubs Centres.

Paul Fallon is Infrastructure Programme Manager with Irish Water.

“Irish Water is planning for now and the future so that sludge can be treated and disposed of safely and in a way that does not pose a risk to public health,  the environment or agricultural lands by increasing the capacity of sludge management facilities. The development of regional Sludge Hubs Centres is key to ensure that, as a country, we can manage the increasing volumes of sludge we produce,” he said.

Submissions can be made to Irish Water in the following ways: by email: sudgehubseastmidlands@water. ie

By post:                Sludge Hubs Centres East Midlands Region, c/o J.B. Barry & Partners Ltd, Classon House, Dundrum Business Park, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14, D14 T9T0

To view the Site Selection Methodology Report or for further information visit www.water.ie/sludgehubs.

The report and project newsletter is also available at planning counters in the relevant local authority offices and public libraries across the country.