Donegal council begins removal of 2,000 tons of waste from illegal dump
Inspectors make recommendation on further 36,000 tons after court orders arrest
Engineers work at one of the fire-damaged sheds on a site where former waste collector Jim Ferry, whose arrest has been ordered by the High Court, dumped 38,000 tons of rubbish. Photograph: North West Newspix
A contractor acting for the council on Tuesday began the process of taking away surface waste from an 4.5-hectare (11-acre) site at Rossbracken, which is in a Special Conservation Area on the shore of Lough Swilly on the Wild Atlantic Way between Letterkenny and Buncrana.
It is estimated that some 2,000 tons of waste is above ground on the site, some of it strewn around but mostly held as bales inside in a large shed. The shed is partially destroyed having been on fire twice, without explanation. The first blaze was at the end of July and the second was in early September, after the High Court found Mr Ferry in contempt because of his refusal to obey a court order.
It is understood that the 2,000 tons is to be transported to the waste-to-energy incinerator at Ringsend in Dublin.
A further estimated 36,000 tons of waste, mostly household refuse, was buried illegally at various locations on the Rossbracken site and a decision on what is to be done with it will be taken after Donegal County Council inspectors, who are leading the clean-up operation, investigate and make a recommendation. They are expected to advise the council to either leave the waste in place and seek to staunch the flow of toxins from it, or excavate the site and remove it.
In August, the High Court directed that Mr Ferry be arrested and jailed indefinitely over his refusal to comply with an earlier order directing him to remediate the site.
Last month, the court gave the council the power to enter the site and clean it, directing that Mr Ferry was to be billed on foot of invoices, dispatched on a monthly basis if necessary.
Since his imprisonment was ordered, Mr Ferry has disappeared and is believed to be in Northern Ireland, though reports emerge regularly of him being spotted in Donegal. In recent weeks, he has made complaints to the council about a rival waste collector whom he accuses of planning breaches.