Spreading manure on Gozo fields still a ‘common practice’

The company is insisting that the practice of spreading untreated manure, which contains high levels of nitrates on fields, is endangering the water table

Spreading untreated manure – or slurry – on agricultural land is still a “common practice” in Gozo, according to the project development statement by a private firm that wants to develop a mega processing plant for slurry.

Tenega Limited wants to be build the facility to process manure from Gozitan farms, in Xlendi.

The company is insisting that the practice of spreading untreated manure, which contains high levels of nitrates on fields, is endangering the water table.

And another main concern is that farmers could be discharging their farm waste into the sewage system, clogging sewage treatment plants.

The private project will convert the animal waste to “packaged pellets” or “irrigation water”, which has also been endorsed by government.

But the new facility, proposed in Triq Zghawri in Xlendi, has created quite an uproar in the locality, attracting nearly 400 objections.

The project’s proponents have been exempted from preparing an environment impact assessment, and their PDS is short on detail on the impact on the impact on the locality.

A rendition of the proposed slurry porcessing plant
A rendition of the proposed slurry porcessing plant

One of the main concerns expressed by objectors is that truckloads of manure would be driven through the centre of the village of Munxar. Other objectors have objected due to the plant’s proximity to a touristic area.

But the PDS claims the technology used will eliminate any odours. The agricultural slurry will be transported from farms to the separation site by means of a specifically designed bowser which is vacuum-sealed to avoid leakages, and also equipped with emergency safety valves.

Upon arrival, the bowser will discharge the slurry into a fully-enclosed, 900 cubic metre underground reservoir, which process would eliminate all odours resulting from discharging slurry in open pits.

The PDS stated that in 2016 the government had endorsed the proposal. “Following several meetings and discussions with the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change, the project was accepted favourably.”

The 4,800sq.m site in Munxar earmarked for the facility already includes a bovine farm. It was already touted as the preferred location for a separation and treatment centre, being in the vicinity of eight existing dairy farms altogether contributing 45% of Gozitran dairy production, therefore reducing the need to transport the waste on Gozitan main roads.

Two other sites were considered but excluded: one in Ghajnsielem, adjacent to an existing operational concrete plant, and another near the sewage treatment plant at Ras il-Hobz. Development in these two areas was deemed to have a greater ecological impact.

The proposed upgrade lies within the required 200m buffer zone from residential dwellings.

Tenaga Limited is described as a newly formed organisation, focusing mainly on agriculture waste management, among other related projects. The company is owned by Emmanuel Baldacchino.

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