Incident at Tipperary Co-op waste water treatment plant (IE Reg P0801-01)

Date released: Jan 31 2020

UPDATE: 9.4.2020


The EPA was informed on Wednesday 8th April during a video conference meeting with representatives of Tipperary Co-op of their plans to disinfect the biotower, starting Thursday 9th, using sodium hydroxide solution (also known as caustic soda). This is an effective biocide and cleaning agent and is commonly available (albeit in small quantities) to householders for drain cleaning. The operation will be monitored by on-site staff and the disinfectant will be run through the biotower for as long as is necessary to effectively clean it. This might take several days. The dirty water coming off the biotower will be removed from the site by an authorised waste contractor and taken to a licensed waste facility where it will be safely treated.

By taking the biotower out of use last weekend, and now removing any residual source of odour from within its structure, the biotower’s contribution to odorous emissions should be eliminated. The treatment of the biotower itself might be a source of odour this weekend, but this will be short-lived, no longer than the treatment process itself and is more likely to arise in the early stages of the treatment process.

We were informed today (Thursday 9th) by Tipperary Co-op that the disinfection and cleaning process started this afternoon. Some off-site odour was reported by Tipperary Co-op staff in the town but reportedly less persistent than before.

After disinfection and cleaning, the biotower will be dismantled and removed from the facility. There is no timetable for this work as yet.

Tipperary Co-op will be operational over the Easter weekend. In the event of odour nuisance being experienced in the town, complainants are asked to contact Tipperary Co-op directly. The contact details are below or the following number can be also used: 086 1451668. The holder of this phone is an employee of Tipperary Co-op who can deal with any complaints immediately.

 

 

UPDATE: 7.4.2020

Since our last update (below) on 1st April 2020, the EPA has received 6 complaints about odour associated with Tipperary Co-op. In addition, 30 complaints were made to Tipperary County Council. According to reports from Tipperary Co-op, one odour complaint was made directly to the Co-op in that period. To date in 2020, the EPA has received 78 complaints about odour from the Tipperary Co-op facility. This represents half of all odour complaints made this year to the EPA about licensed facilities.

Tipperary Co-op reported on 6th April 2020 that the biotower was taken off-line on Sunday 5th April at 20:00. Construction works generally are ongoing at the waste water treatment plant. The EPA is of the view that it is possible that Tipperary Co-op will at times be a source of odours until such time as construction is completed. Completion is currently scheduled for mid-May 2020.

The EPA wishes to reiterate the importance of logging complaints directly with the operator, immediately if and when there is odour nuisance. This will ensure the fastest possible response to identifying and resolving the issue. We have been informed that Tipperary Co-op will respond individually to complainants in the community.

In the event of odour nuisance, please contact Tipperary Co-op directly - by phone or email using the following contact information: 062 32079 or info@tipperary-coop.ie.

The EPA has again instructed Tipperary Co-op to engage in public communications with a focus on warning the community in advance of any activities that are likely to lead to odour and stating what will be done to minimise any odour.

 

 

UPDATE: 01.04.2020


The EPA have, since 5.3.2020, received twenty nine complaints about odour in Tipperary Town attributed to the waste water treatment plant in the Tipperary Co-op facility.
Since December 2019, Tipperary Co-op have been building a new waste water treatment plant to replace the existing plant. This construction work was due to have been completed by end-March 2020. There have been delays and the Co-op’s new completion date is mid-May.  
Tipperary Co-op failed to decommission the biotower by 13th March 2020, a commitment previously made to the EPA and the wider community. The EPA has been provided with no detailed reasons for this failure. We note however that two days’ work were lost over the weekend 28-29 March 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions at the construction site. The new decommissioning date for the biotower is 05/04/2020.
In the interim, remediation works were carried out on the biotower and associated odour abatement infrastructure.   These have not been adequate as odour complaints are now being made again since late last week.
The EPA has required that Tipperary Co-op immediately take whatever measures are necessary to immediately cease having an odour impact on the locality.
The EPA has on two occasions (31/01/2020 and 06/03/2020) instructed Tipperary Co-op to engage in public communications outlining the works taking place and timeframes for upgrading the waste water treatment plant at the creamery.

  Tipperary Co-op have not taken this opportunity to pro-actively communicate with its neighbours.
In the absence of local communications initiated by Tipperary Co-op, the EPA will provide what information it can to the local community and will be seeking regular updates from Tipperary Co-op. We will update this webpage with relevant information when appropriate, including any responses we receive regarding odour complaints.
Tipperary Co-op have stated their intention to engage individually with complainants. For this reason, it is very important that residents complain directly to Tipperary Co-op by phone or email using the following contact information: 062 32079 or info@tipperary-coop.ie

 

UPDATE: 05.03.2020

The EPA conducted site visits on 27/01/2020, 29/01/2020, 05/02/2020, 26/02/2020 and 02/03/2020 to investigate how Tipperary Co-op had responded to the incident.  This investigation concluded that Tipperary Co-op were non-compliant with seven conditions of their Industrial Emissions licence and were required to rectify these issues without delay. 

Following the site visits, it is evident that Tipperary Co-op have failed to act in compliance with its Industrial Emissions licence and ensure effective management of the licensed installation with regard to its environmental impact.

In particular:

  • there was not adequate technical expertise or process control to ensure effective operation of the waste water treatment, identify it was failing and take corrective action in a timely manner;
  • a significant odour impact around Tipperary Town was allowed to persist and inadequate measures were taken to stop the generation of odorous emissions;
  • Tipperary Co-op did not report emission limit value breaches to Irish Water, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the EPA in a timely manner. 

The EPA has conducted five odour assessments around Tipperary Town since 27 January 2020.  Forty two odour complaints were received by the EPA between 22 January 2020 and 4 March 2020.

The EPA visited the site on Monday 02/03/2020 and found that the biotower element of the existing waste water treatment plant remains the main cause of the odours from the site. 

Since December 2019, Tipperary Co-op have been building a new waste water treatment plant to replace the existing plant and work is due to be completed by end-March 2020.

Tipperary Co-op advised the EPA verbally on 2/3/2020 that it will cease to use the biotower by 13/03/2020 and from that date it will no longer be a source of nuisance odours in the town.

The EPA will continue to ensure that Tipperary Co-op implement corrective measures to prevent a reoccurrence of this type of incident and protect the environment.  The EPA continue to monitor the situation. Tipperary Co-op are required to submit an update to the Category 3 incident referred to above for evaluation by the EPA.

If you wish to make a complaint about the odours you are experiencing in the areas around Tipperary Co-op please make it directly to the facility at 06232079.  The EPA are also monitoring how Tipperary Co-op comply with licence requirements to respond to complainants and provide information to the public concerning the environmental performance of the installation.

 

Incident at Tipperary Co-op waste water treatment plant (IE Reg P010801-01)

31.01.2020

The EPA is investigating an incident (INCI018050) which they became aware of through receipt of odour complaints in Tipperary Town.  Initial investigation by the EPA determined that the source of the odour was the from the Tipperary Co-op waste water treatment plant (IE Reg P0801-01) .  The EPA investigation confirmed that the odour impact on the surrounding area was significant.  The discharge from the on-site treatment plant to the municipal sewer also impacted on the Irish Water Waste Water Treatment plant serving the town. 
 
Tipperary Co-op have advised that production and the associated discharge to sewer has stopped until the matter is resolved. 
 
Tipperary Co-op have consulted with Irish Water and the EPA when developing their corrective actions to restore waste water treatment on the Tipperary Co-op site and reduce impact on the municipal waste water treatment plant.  The EPA will continue to ensure that Tipperary Co-op implement corrective measures to prevent a reoccurrence of this type of incident and protect the environment.  The EPA continue to monitor the situation. Tipperary Co-op are required to submit a full report on the incident to the EPA for evaluation, after which further enforcement action will be considered.