Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline on Monday, local resident Thor Preisler said he discovered the stream in this condition on Friday 4 March and followed it to a Dunbia abattoir, adding that he had “no doubt where it came from”.

He contacted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, it was unable to investigate at short notice.

Previous contact had also been made in December to confirm the agency was testing the waterways. However, Thor said “confirmation has not been forthcoming”.

My fear is that this is not the only time this has been left into the streams

Thor also said that as he got closer to the factory the water contained lumps of fat and other unidentified substances: “The fact is these guys are policing themselves and nobody has been able to show me otherwise. My fear is that this is not the only time this has been left into the streams.”

According to RTÉ reports, Dunbia has now accepted responsibility for the discharge, adding it flowed from the factory for approximately 20 minutes and that it took “immediate action” to resolve the issue. However, local Thor Preisler said it was “fast flowing blood-red for close to two hours”.

Another local, Gerry Frauley, described the smell as “pungent” and “rotten”.

“We don’t really know what goes on there generally, because we have no way of monitoring it – what kind of chemicals or whether there’s blood in the stream or not. Just because it’s not flowing red doesn’t mean there isn’t some degree of blood in it,” Frawley told RTÉ.

He also said he “wouldn’t dream of drinking from the tap water now”.

He alleged that the factory recently increased the number of slaughterings per day from 200 to 350 and that the “blood wash/slaughterhouse wash” was being spread in the fields behind his house.

However, this claim is denied by Dunbia, which told RTÉ: “We have invested substantially in a range of environmental initiatives over recent years and will continue to do so. We’ve engaged with both the EPA and Meath County Council and have implemented actions to prevent a reoccurrence. We are devoted to improving the environmental aspect of our company and we are currently working to environmental management systems in throughout all the Dunbia sites.”

Dunbia representatives were not available for comment when contacted by the Irish Farmers Journal on Monday.