Irish Water guilty of sewage pollution at four plants across the country

Tests of the discharge showed excessive emissions of ammonia as well as phosphorus.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IRISH WATER HAS pleaded guilty to breaking environmental laws following the discovery of sewage pollution at treatment plants in Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Cork.

The company, which is being prosecuted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court on to 11 charges under Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) regulations. Irish Water had been prosecuted twice previously by the EPA and the court could hand down fines of up to €5,000 per offence, Judge John Brennan noted.

 

He adjourned the case for two weeks to consider what sanction he will impose.

Prosecuting solicitor Maeve Larkin said the EPA was proceeding with three charges in connection with a waste water treatment plant in Athenry, Galway. This facility takes in waste water for treatment and then discharges clean water into the Clarinbridge river.

It failed to complete required upgrades by the end of 2015 and had released water with excessive pollutants into the river and failed to report an incident. EPA inspector Una O’Callaghan said Irish Water had indicated to Irish Water that the required work to reduce ammonia and phosphorus in water had to be done by the third quarter of 2015.

Irish Water told the EPA it would comply by April 2016, then moved the date back to the second half of 2017 and Irish Water now says the upgrading work will not start until 2018 and is not expected to be completed until the following year.

Tests of the discharge showed excessive emissions of ammonia, which can kill fish, as well as phosphorus, which can be a risk to the aquatic environment, the court was told.

The EPA inspector agreed with Larkin that from July 20, 2105 until August 2016 there were 11 occasions when pollutant levels breached regulation limits. Judge John Brennan heard that ammonia levels varied between 10 and 73 times the limit. During the same period phosphorus levels were between four and 23 times the limit.

Irish Water failed to notify the EPA about a mechanical failure led to a breakdown at the plant on 4 May last year when 40% of the waste water taken in could not be treated.

 

Source: Journal.ie, Mar 9 2017