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Environmental Report from the Rossport Solidarity Camp

category mayo | environment | news report author Thursday March 16, 2006 21:40author by tracey - Rossport Solidarity Campauthor email rossportsolidaritycamp at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

This is the first of many updates on the steps the camp is taking to ensure that we leave as light an ecological footprint as possible on the enviroment we find ourselves camped in.
toilets under construction
toilets under construction

Environmental report on Rossport solidarity camp

The Rossport Solidarity Camp reopened on the 25th of February in Glengad. We are camped on the beach sheltered by sand dunes or machairs on the landfall site, that is the area where the proposed pipeline would meet land.

Machairs are a valuable and rare habitat that is a combination of dunes, grassland and wetland and are only found on the west coast of Ireland between Galway and Malin Head and certain parts of Scotland. The machair ecosystem is a fragile one built up over thousands of years containing its own unique collection of topography, soils, plants and animals, influenced by the local climate and water table.
Part of the ethos of our camp is to leave as light an ecological footprint on the land as possible. Shell plan to pollute Broadhaven bay with the waste from their proposed refinery in Bellanaboy. Already in their preparatory work on the refinery site they have polluted Carrowmore Lake, the source of local drinking water. We have built the camp as a physical block to this project; it’s a place for people to stay who want to give support and solidarity to the residents. But its also important to us that this camp is an example of sustainable living. Of course were not saying that everyone should start living in benders but there are methods that we are using on the camp, like alternative technology composting, grey water systems etc that can easily be used in regular living conditions.
We are publishing this environmental report on the camp for a few reasons.
Firstly to let people learn from the methods we are using and to receive feedback from people. Also to show that we are serious about what we are doing, we realise that we are camped in a sensitive environment and we are taking every step to ensure its safety. And finally we want to highlight the difference between our respect for the local environment here and Shells blatant disregard for not just the environment but people’s health and safety too.
Before we built the camp we spoke to a local man involved with REPS (rural environment protection scheme). He told us that the main concerns with camping among the dunes would be waste and trampling the dunes. So we decided that we would camp in the flat areas around the dunes and not on any of the dunes themselves. We also decided to mark out walkways into these areas so people could stick to chosen routes that avoided the dunes. We also painted up signs explaining all this and asking people to keep off the dunes.
However the biggest thing we had to consider was dealing with our waste especially our wastewater. We were worried that constantly draining our wastewater straight into the ground would lead to ground water pollution. So we decided to use a grey water system to treat our wastewater from the kitchen and wash areas. Grey water is any domestic wastewater except toilet water. The idea of the system we are using is to allow bacteria and water plants to work on water before we allow it to drain into the soil. We used large fish boxes joined together with plumbing pipe. The water is first sieved in the kitchen to separate food particles, then it goes down a pipe to the first box which contains wood chip. This both acts as a bio filter for smaller food particles and grease and it also provides a medium for beneficial bacteria, which also works on the water. We also added beneficial bacteria to this box. Then the water travels through 4 boxes containing water plants and soil and the last box contains woodchip and bacteria again. After this it is drained back into the soil. The idea is that the water spends a maximum amount of time in the system so we cannot overload the system. It is teaching us to be very sparing with water. Also we have decided to use only biodegradable products on camp so we can also install this system in our wash area.
Dealing with toilet waste also took a bit of thinking about. We decided we couldn’t dig into the ground for solids composting toilets and also we couldn’t just have people urinating wherever they wanted too.
So we have both a solids compost toilet and a urine toilet. We collect the solid waste in a bucket under the toilet and compost this in large sealed wooden boxes. As soon as its turned to compost it will be removed from the site, it will make fine compost for trees! In the urine toilet you urinate onto a straw bale basically. The bale is in a container, there’s even a seat on it. The straw soaks up the urine and is regularly changed, then its put on the food waste compost, as urine is an excellent activator of compost. Therefore none of our waste is entering the soil and possibly causing pollution.
We deal with all other waste on site by composting and recycling when we can. Food scraps are composted in wooden compost bins we have made. Cans, bottles etc are reused or recycled and we try to bring as little packaging on site as possible.
We get electricity on the camp from solar panels at the moment but we will also have a wind turbine on the camp in the next month.
We invite everyone to come to the camp for any period of time, from one day to one week to one month…. we need help building the camp but we ask that people of all experiences, ages and background come and get involved, you don’t have to be an expert.

Contact us at 097 20944
Tracey 087 6543425
Michael 086 3588890
Rossportsolidaritycamp@gmail.com

Related Link: http://www.struggle.ws/rsc/

greywater system for the kitchen
greywater system for the kitchen

signs
signs

recycling buckets
recycling buckets

solar panels
solar panels

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