EPA grants controversial discharge licence to Cork cheese processing factory

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted a discharge licence to a cheese processing factory in Co. Cork.

The industrial emissions licence, which has angered locals, has been granted to the factory at Mogeely which is a partnership between Dairygold and TINE – Norway’s largest farmer-owned dairy co-op and owner of the Jarlsberg cheese brand.

Dairygold, through its strategic partnership, has been manufacturing Jarlsberg cheese on behalf of TINE, in Mogeely for a number of years.

The EPA has said: “The agency considers that the monitoring, mitigation and preventative measures proposed will enable the activity to operate without causing environmental pollution, subject to compliance with the licence.

“The conditions of the licence and the mitigation measures proposed will significantly reduce the likelihood of accidental emissions occurring and limit the environmental consequences of an accidental emission should one occur.”

The €25 million factory in Mogeely was constructed after planning permission was granted initially by Cork County Council in 2017 and subsequently by An Bord Pleanála.

Concerned locals

Local residents of East Ferry are opposed to the discharge of treated fats via a sewer network from Mogeely to the waterway at Rathcoursey.

In a formal submission to the EPA, environmental conservation group – ‘Protect East Ferry Waters’ – said:

We remain clear on our point, that this is no place for the outfall pipe to release up to 4 million litres of industrial FOG [fats, oils and grease] per day.

“Studies that have been carried out by NUI Galway in the north channel show clearly that anything that is released at the north channel does not simply get brought out to sea, but, rather, builds up in the region and accumulates.

“This is going to impact significantly on the multiple mid flat areas around the pipe, thereby impacting on protected birds and their ability to feed.”

Dairygold response to letters of objection

In its own submission to the EPA, Dairygold has defended the application for a discharge licence:

“The new treatment plant is capable of appropriately treating and removing the fats and greases from the raw effluent to acceptable discharge limit values.

The residual concentrations of FOG [which are of milk origin] in the final treated discharged wastewater will be soluble and will not cause a build up of fatty deposits in the area.

“There is no risk to either the quality of the receiving waterbody or ecological habitats as a result of the proposed discharge.”

The EPA has listed a number of conditions attached to the discharge licence.

One such condition states: “Monitoring and analysis equipment shall be installed, operated and maintained as necessary so that all monitoring accurately reflects the emission/discharge.”