Residents complain over foul odours from plant

Rachel McNabb

Reporter:

Rachel McNabb

RESIDENTS living close to an Anaerobic Digestion plant in Ballymena claim they are being subjected to “unbearable odours” from a nearby Anaerobic Digestion plant in Ballymena.

Local resident Donna McCormick, said the smell was at times “nauseating” and described having to travel out of the area “just to get some fresh air”.

She said: “We were told that there would be no odour but even with the best intentions they have so far been unable to keep to this promise. But unfortunately it is the residents who are suffering from the impact of all of this.

“Depending on the direction of the wind the smell can be so bad it makes me feel nauseous and sometimes you just want to get out of the area to get some fresh air.

“You can't hang out clothes, open your windows or sit in your garden. It affects your well-being because you are always thinking how long am I going to have to live with this or will I have to sell-up, leave the home that I have put a lot of effort into and have lived in for many years? The possible health implications are also a major concern.”

She continued: “It is not just me there are residents in the area who have farms or homes that have been in their families for generations.

“There are other issues as well as the odour and I feel like we are the guinea pigs in all of this.

“The company have told us they are working to fix the problem and we are meeting with them again on February 27.”

One man who has lived in the area all his life but does not wish to be named, said he will have to think about moving if the situation does not improve.

He stated: “The smell at times is terrible. It is a gassy smell but there is also a rotten smell to it, its hard to explain.

“We can't open our windows even during the warm weather. We tried to have them open but I had to get up in the middle of the night to close them the smell was so bad.

“Last summer when the weather was good everyone was out enjoying their gardens and having barbecues but we had to either sit in the house or go out to eat somewhere.”

He continued: “We were told at the start that we would hear, smell or see nothing but that is not the case.

“When the smell gets into the house it takes a long time for it to go. I have even had people saying they can smell it when they are driving along the Craigadoo Road and they ask me 'how do you stick it?'.

“My wife loves to garden but she can't because of the smell. I have lived in the area all my life and if this doesn't improve we will have to consider moving.”

TUV MLA, Jim Allister, called on the company to “take urgent action”.

Mr Allister led a delegation of residents to a meeting with senior management at the plant on Tuesday, January 8.

He said: "For several months these residents have been afflicted with unbearable odours from the plant which processes poultry litter.

“When seeking planning permission the plant owners assured everyone they were installing state of the art technology which would ensure no smells. The supposed super efficient technology has failed and now local residents are paying the price.”

Mr Allister has vowed to return with the residents for a further meeting.

He said he would also be pressing the Northern Ireland Environment Agency “to step up its supervision and action”.

“The present intolerable position cannot continue,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, NIEA, was aware of odour complaints relating to the Anaerobic Digestion facility at Moorfields Road, Tully Quarry.

A spokesperson for the Department said: “This facility is regulated by NIEA under a Pollution Prevention and Control Permit and the permit holder is Anaerobic Advantage Ltd.

“NIEA agrees that odour management at the facility has not been acceptable and the facility is currently not in compliance with its permit. In response NIEA has been working with the operator in recent months resulting in the operator taking numerous steps attempting to mitigate and resolve the problems.

“NIEA staff have visited a number of the residents during this time and we have also worked in close co-operation with the local council Environmental Health officer to obtain information on the odour impact from local residents.

“As a result of investigations NIEA issued an Enforcement Notice on 1 October 2018 requiring the operator to provide detailed proposals to fully resolve the odour problem.  The operator has now provided their proposals for additional odour treatment and it is expected this work should be completed by end of January 2019.

“NIEA will continue to inspect the site on a regular basis, maintain pressure on the operator to take all necessary actions to minimise odour nuisance and liaise with local residents to keep them updated on progress.”

In a statement Stream BioEnergy Ltd said: “We acknowledge and respect the concerns raised and we are continuing to work hard to resolve these as quickly as possible.”

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